A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that these artisans are not permanent occupiers of any land but are migrants from other states who live on footpaths.
The Delhi High Court today pulled up the city’s civic body for calling effigy makers “encroachers” of public land, and destroying and confiscating the effigies of demon king Ravan. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that these artisans are not permanent occupiers of any land but are migrants from other states who live on footpaths. It issued notices to the Delhi government and the south Delhi municipal corporation asking them about the action taken against the artisans engaged in preparing effigies of Ravan, which are set on fire as part of Dussehra celebrations. The high court has initiated proceedings against the authorities on its own after taking note of a news report.
The report talked about the plight of these craftsmen, apparently poor, whose only source of livelihood was making these effigies. Anguished over the corporation’s action, the bench asked the civic body to ensure that the effigies are restored to the artisans and facilities made available to them so they are able to complete their work. It asked the civic body to provide them necessary conveniences including water and toilets.
The south MCD shall also be responsible for the damages to the properties of these poor people, the bench added. It asked the Delhi government to place a report before it about the “confiscation and destruction” by it of the effigies. It sought presence of the Executive Engineer of the south MCD tomorrow and appointed advocate Ashok Aggarwal as a ‘local commissioner’ to visit the area in Titarpur in West Delhi, where the effigies were allegedly destroyed. The bench also sought the presence of artisans before the court tomorrow.