Libertatem Magazine

Delhi High Court Directs Delhi Jal Board To Make Supply of Potable Drinking Water

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The High Court of Delhi in the matter of Delhi Sainik Cooperation Housing Ltd. v. Union of India & Ors held that right to have access to potable drinking water is a fundamental right. Moreover, it couldn’t be denied just because it was claimed by a person residing in an unauthorized colony.

Facts of the Case

The present petition had been filed by the group of 53 veterans including disabled/decorated officers, war-widows and Armed Forces Personnel. The Petitioners herein were the residents of Defence Services Enclave at Khanpur and Khirki villages in the National Capital for the last 50 years. The grievance of the Petitioners was that MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) had failed to provide a single facility to the Petitioners despite their repeated attempts for the last 30 years. The Delhi authorities had also declared the colony as an unauthorized residential area. Hence, the Petitioners sought appropriate direction from the court to provide relief in this case.

Petitioner’s Arguments

Several writ petitions had been filed against the Delhi authorities and Delhi Jal Board and others in which Senior Advocate Mr Dushyant Dave had appeared for the Petitioners. He claimed that the authorities did not allow the Petitioners to repair/build their boundary walls. which affected the security of the residents as the area was susceptible to encroachment. 

The Counsel further contended that the Petitioners were deprived of the basic civic amenities like drinking water, sewerage, electricity, etc. Hence, it violated their right to enjoy life with dignity enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Delhi government defended the unauthorised status of the colony on the ground that it was not based on an approved layout plan by the concerned agency. It had also been made clear that the land was for agricultural use and not for residential purpose.

Delhi Jal Board in the matter of drinking water stated that the development work of the pipelines could have only been executed after the clearance from the Urban Development Department.

Court’s Order

A Single Bench of Justice Jayant Nath directed the Delhi government to constitute a committee in order to take a decision within 4 months with regard to regularising the Defence Services Enclave. On right to access drinking water and basic amenities, the Court relied on the case of A.P. Pollution Control Board II vs. Prof.M. V. Nayudu (Retd.) & Ors., (2001) 2 SCC 62 where, it was held that “Right to access potable drinking water is fundamental to life and it is a duty of the State under Article 21 of the Constitution to provide clean drinking water to its citizens.”

After which the Court directed Delhi Jal Board to make an appropriate scheme as per their normal procedure for supply of portable drinking water to the Petitioners which should be framed and implemented expeditiously within 9 months.

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