Interim protection from eviction, demolition will cease to operate for all but 5 districts from October 12: HC

The Bombay High Court on Friday said interim orders passed by various courts and authorities in Maharashtra after April 9 pertaining to eviction, demolition and dispossession, which are still in operation, will be kept in abeyance only till October 11 in view of the “gradually improving pandemic situation”. The court said that from October 12, interim protection will “cease to operate”.

However, the HC said that in view of the increase in Covid-19 infections, orders pertaining to demolition, dispossession and eviction passed by courts in five districts, including Satara, Osmanabad, Ahmednagar, Pune and Ratnagiri, will be kept in abeyance for two weeks till October 21 and is not likely to be extended further unless circumstances justifying extension are brought to our notice.

On September 24, the HC had said that the orders would continue to be kept in abeyance only till October 8 in view of the “gradually improving” pandemic situation, and not beyond that, unless the situation further deteriorates.

The court had, on April 16, passed an order that eviction, demolition, and dispossession should not be carried out during the pandemic until further directions, and granted parties liberty to move the HC in case of emergency.

A four-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justices A A Sayed, S S Shinde and P B Varale passed the order Friday while hearing a suo motu petition on the extension of protection to those who are unable to access justice due to restricted functioning of courts amid the pandemic.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state government submitted the latest data of Covid-19 infections and the vaccination status in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and said that positive cases in Mumbai are increasing but situation is “not worrisome”.

He submitted that 0.39 per cent of persons who have got the first dose are still getting infected, while 0.23 per cent of fully vaccinated persons have contracted the infection.

Kumbhakoni said, “These figures show that interim orders can be vacated. Especially in Mumbai, 91 per cent (of the eligible population) are vaccinated with the first dose and 65 per cent in the entire state so we can return to normalcy.”

He added that the Covid-19 situation in Mumbai should be bifurcated with that of the rest of Maharashtra, and interim protection can be vacated as there are many complaints of illegal constructions and metro projects held up.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing the lawyers’ association, said only those people who have received two doses of vaccine and have completed 14 day since the second dose can travel by local trains. So far, only 48 per cent of the population has got their second dose, and therefore, most of the persons are not eligible to travel in the city, he added.

“Most of the lawyers and litigants are applying for continuation of the interim orders. Considering the slight increase of infection in Mumbai, this may be treated as the last extension,” he said.

He added that in five districts — Satara, Ahmednagar, Osmanabad, Pune, Ratnagiri — the percentage of people getting infected is higher than the average infection rate in Maharashtra.

Warunjikar pointed out that the Ahmednagar district administration has imposed lockdown in 61 villages, and therefore, the interim protection must be extended.

The HC will review the situation in five districts and pass further orders on October 21.