1. The appellants herein filed the writ petition, out of which the present writ appeal arises, for the issue of a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction, directing the respondents not to evict the appellants, or forbearing them from taking any proceedings for eviction of the appellants and disturb their possession and enjoyment of their houses at Raja Muthiapuram, Raja Annamalaipuram, Madras. The appellants are the residents of that locality from which, according to the appellants, the second respondent is trying to evict them forcibly. The appellants originally occupied the tenements in the land; and these tenements were built by the Government as fire proof tenements some years back. Subsequently the second respondent wanted to clear off this area, after demolishing the tenements, in order to put up a multi-storeyed building to accommodate not only the dwellers of these tenements, but also others in the slums. No doubt, the second respondent has offered alternative accommodation, along with a sum of Rs. 100, to enable them to put up temporary tenements, and has also offered a portion in the building contemplated to be constructed by the second respondent.
2. Fearing that the second respondent would forcibly evict the appellants herein, the appellants came forward with the present petition. There are specific allegations in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition that the respondents have not furnished reasons for evicting the appellants and that the respondents are taking coercive steps for evicting the appellants from the present tenements.
3. The second respondent has filed, a counter alleging, inter alia, that the appellants are being evicted after providing alternative accommodation to them just to construct a pucca multi-storeyed building in order to accommodate the appellants and also other slum dwellers. According to the respondents, more than eighty per cent of the persons who are occupying this portion have vacated and only these appellants are obstructing. It is only because of this obstruction that the respondents are not able to proceed with the construction work which is intended to benefit a number of slum dwellers, including the appellants herein.
4. The learned single Judge, after observing that it is only to benefit the appellants that such steps are taken and that there is no reason worth mentioning for the appellants~ to obstruct the eviction proceedings, dismissed the writ petition. It is as against this order of dismissal the present writ appeal has been filed.
5. Mr. Panneerselvam, learned counsel appearing for the appellants, pointed out the procedure set up under the Tamil Nadu Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act (Tamil Nadu Act II of 1971), and contended that as such the respondents cannot forcibly evict the appellants from the tenements which they are occupying. Mr. M. S. Sampathkumar, learned counsel appearing for the second respondent is not able to convince us as regards the failure on the part of the second respondent to follow the procedure set up under Tamil Nadu Act II of 1971. Mr. Desabandu, learned Government Pleader, is also in the same position. S. 3(1) of the Act reads as follows:
'3. Declaration of slum area: (1) Where the Government are satisfied that -
(a) any area is or maybe a source of danger to the health, safety or convenience of the public of that area or of its neighborhood, by reasons of the area being low-lying, in sanitary, squalid, over crowded or otherwise; or
(b) the buildings in any area, used or intended to be used for human habitation are -
(i) in any respect, unfit for human habitation; or
(ii) by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding.
faulty arrangement and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangements of streets, lack of ventilation, tight or sanitation facilities, or any combination of these factors, detrimental to safe, health or morals, they may, by notification, declare such area to be a slum area.
S. 11 (1) of the Act reads as follows - -
'11. Power to declare any slum area to be a slum clearance area: (1) Where the Government, on a report from the Board or the pre-scribed authority, or the local authority concerned or the State Housing Board or an officer authorized by the Government for this purpose, are satisfied, as regards any slum area that the most satisfactory method of dealing with the conditions in the area is the clearance of such area and the demolition of all the buildings in the area, they may by notification, declare the area to be a slum clearance area, that is to say, an area to be cleared of all buildings in accordance with the provisions of this Act ;
Provided that before issuing such notification the Government shall call upon the owners of the lands and buildings in such slum area to show cause why such declaration should not be made and after considering the cause, if any, shown by such owners, the Government may pass such orders as they may deem fit.'
6. It is clear from the above provision that there must be a notification declaring a particular area as a slum area under S. 3; and as per S. 11, there must be a declaration that such area comes under the slum clearance area. Neither of these things has been done in this case, before the Slum Clearance Board launched its coercive proceedings to evict the appellants herein. No provision in the Act has been shown to us as to how such proceedings are taken by the second respondent herein. Even assuming that the second respondent has power to evict the appellants under Act 11 of 1971, on account of the failure on the part of the second respondent to declare the area as a slum area, and the further failure to declare such area as a slum clearance area, the action taken by the second respondent to clear the appellants from the area cannot be sustained. These detractions, in our view, are mandatory in nature and the failure to adhere to the procedure prescribed vitiates all the proceedings taken by the second respondent to evict the appellants. It is always open to the second respondent to follow the procedure strictly set up by the Act before taking action to clear the appellants from the tenements in which they are residing.
7. For all these reasons the writ appeal is allowed, with the result that there will be a writ of mandamus directing the second respondent not to evict the appellants or to take any proceedings against them unless it is done in accordance with the procedure set up by the Act. There will be no order as to costs.
8. Appeal allowed.