The fact of the Case
In the Current Matter at hand State of Meghalaya vs Harijan Panchayat Committee and ors. a complaint over the Dalit Sikhs who once lived in a sweeper colony in Shillong’s removal and rehabilitation policies. Conflicts between the Khasi tribe and the local Sikh population are at the heart of the problem facing 342 households in Shillong’s Them Lew Mawlong, popularly known as Punjabi Lane. Punjabis were asked to evacuate after the Municipal Board launched an investigation to establish the true occupants of Punjabi Lane in May 2018. A high-level committee was formed by the State government in June 2018 to address the problem. On a different 2.5-acre tract of land, the Urban Affairs Department suggested erecting 30–40 apartments in 12 blocks while removing and rebuilding existing structures. The committee, however, never formally accepted the government’s plan and wanted 200 square metres of land for each household.
Observation of the Court
The High Court of Meghalaya The residents of Shillong’s former sweeper’s colony were urged to be more reasonable in their negotiations with the State government regarding their relocation to an alternative residence by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh. The bench observed that the case’s central issue was not a legal one necessitating the Court’s intervention.
The Harijan Panchayat Committee claimed that the High Court had distorted its position, and the High Court criticised them for it. The HPC was criticised by the Chief Justice for rejecting the State’s proposed relocation and compensation plan, which was presented in court. The HPC was criticised by the High Court for refusing to bend and for having its comments misconstrued. The court further observed that the HPC had misrepresented that only minor revisions to the plan were necessary and that the entire project was approved.
The bench then decided to postpone the case until August 30 in the hopes that the State’s talks with the colony’s residents would be more successful by the time it came up for hearing. The Court’s intervention is not necessary since the State and the respondents are currently working to reach a mutually agreeable solution. The issue has, however, lingered on for much too long, as has been said several times. According to the Court’s order, the case will be heard in six weeks, with the expectation that a resolution would have been found by then.
CASE NAME – State of Meghalaya vs Harijan Panchayat Committee and ors. WA No. 29 of 2019