Four decades after a man lost his plot of land in Kondli to a development project under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi High Court has ordered the urban body to allot an alternative plot to his legal heirs. The HC came down heavily on the DDA for its apathy towards the man who not only lost his land but had also fought for 31 years until his death in 2011.
The deceased, Mr. Surjan, owned a plot of 32 bighas and 17 biswas in Kondli village, which was acquired by the DDA in 1981 under its ‘Large-Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi Scheme’. The scheme provided that each person would be offered three chances for allotment of an alternative plot, if the acquisition of his or her land had taken place prior to April 3, 1986.
In 1991, the Land and Building Department issued a letter to Mr. Surjan recommending an alternative plot of 200 sq. mt. in Rohini as per the 1961 scheme. A draw of lots was held, to consider his case , 11 years later, on March 27, 2002. The DDA did not specify any reason to explain this delay. However, as Rohini was far from Kondli, where Mr. Surjan resided, at his request, the offer was cancelled.
On August 24, 2004, the DDA issued a resolution where it decided that rather than three chances, only two should be given to the allottees of alternative plots. On the very next day, another draw of lots was held. This time as well, Mr. Surjan was provided a plot at Rohini, which he declined citing the same reason. Mr. Surjan was unaware of the resolution when he took this second chance. He received a communication in November 2006 in which he was informed that no further alternative housing arrangements would be granted to him. Even at this point, Mr. Surjan was not provided a copy of the resolution and kept in darkness about its implications. Following the letter, Mr. Surjan made various rounds of the DDA, but to no avail. In 2011, Mr. Surjan died, and was survived by his wife and two sons. His wife continued to communicate with the DDA. However, she too died in 2013.
Their sons then moved the HC in 2013, following which the court in 2019 ordered the DDA to forthwith allot them an alternative plot. The HC, then, additionally quashed the 2004 resolution which limited the number of chances for being considered for allotment of an alternative plot to two, instead of three.
In early 2022, the DDA moved an appeal against the 2019 decision of the HC saying it will open a ‘Pandora’s box’ and lead to re-agitation of claims of other individuals as well. The DDA argued that the resolution was passed after careful consideration. On December 5, the HC ordered the DDA to allot an alternative plot of 200 sq. mt. to the sons. The court, however, set aside the 2019 decision to the extent that it quashed the 2004 resolution.