In a major setback to BJP led Union ministry of railways , in Uttarakhand ., SC bench led by Justice SK Kaul stayed the Uttarakhand HC’s demolition order that would have evicted nearly 50,000 people allegedly encroaching on railway land for decades.

Protests erupted in Uttarakhand after the residents found their buildings was demolished on railway land .

The Supreme Court said one can’t just uproot 50,000 people from their homes overnight.

The top court agreed that the railways have a right to reclaim their land but, at the same time, 50,000 people cannot be uprooted from their homes overnight. 

The moot point to be considered would be whether the complete land is to vest in railways or if the state is claiming a part of the land.

Apart from that, there are issues of occupants claiming rights on the land as there are claims of auction purchases.

We have cavilled through the way directions have been passed in the HC order. There cannot be uprooting of 50,000 people overnight within 7 days.

We do believe a workable arrangement is necessary. People may have no rights on the land, they may have to be removed, coupled with schemes of rehabilitation, while recognising the needs of railways.

We have asked the ASG to look into the requisite land for the affected people in the area.

In the meantime, stay on directions of the High Court, with complete restraint on further occupation of land.

During the trails Justice Kaul said ” We have to find a practical way out. There are multiple angles involved.”

Justice Kaul also asked What is troubling us is, firstly, how do you deal with a scenario where people may have purchased in auction after 1947? 

You can expand the (railway) line, of course. Second is, people have been living for 40, 50, 60 years, some rehabilitation scheme will have to be done.

There must be a culmination to this issue one way or the other. Maybe all of them can’t be painted with the same brush. Some may not be eligible at all. There may be some for whom rehabilitation may be needed. There’s a human angle to this. You’ll have to work out something.

There’s a fundamental human issue. Your view is to develop land. Someone has to objectively get into this and cut short the process. Some may be entitled to rehabilitation. Some may not be. All this needs to be examined.

Also, you’ll have to make sure that there’s no further occupation or further construction.

Matter posted for further hearing on February 7.