New Delhi: In a relief, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Tata Power-DDL to provide within 30 days electricity connections to Hindu migrants from Pakistan who have been living in a slum in the city for the last few years without any electricity. The court’s direction came after being informed that the Ministry of Defence has granted the approval for electricity connections to the migrants living in north Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar area.
“In view of the aforesaid, the present PIL shall stand disposed of with a direction to Tata Power to provide electricity connection to all the individuals residing in the locality who apply for the same within 30 days,” a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
The high court, which was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) concerning supply of electricity to nearly 800 such migrants, had earlier asked the Centre why no NOC was issued to them for the last five to six years to facilitate electricity distribution.
During the hearing, central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia submitted certain documents before the court which noted that the letter placed before it was clear that the Ministry of Defence has granted the approval for the electricity connections.
“In the considered opinion of this court, once the competent authority has granted the approval for grant of electricity connections, the respondent (Tata Power) does not have any other choice except to grant electricity connections to all the residents of Adarsh Nagar…,” the bench said.
Senor advocate Sanjay Poddar and lawyers Akash Vajpai and Samiksha Mittal, representing the petitioner, informed the court that all the beneficiaries of the colony were ready to install a prepaid electricity metre so that the company does not suffer any loss in case there are any defaulters/default in the matter of payment of electricity dues.
The counsel assured the court that the migrants will not claim any ownership over the land in question.
The court was earlier informed that the central government has issued Aadhaar cards to these migrants and they are on long-term visas issued by the authorities, but unfortunately, the shelter houses where they are placed do not have electricity connections.
It was informed that the electricity connection was not granted by the power company for want of no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Defence Estates Office.
The bench had earlier expressed hope that the central government would sympathetically look into the plight of poor Hindu migrants from Pakistan living without electricity supply in a slum in the city.
“The land in question over which the jhuggis (slum) have been established belongs to Government of India/Defence Department/DMRC, and in absence of a NOC from the land owning agency, the distribution company is not in a position to provide electricity connection,” the bench had said.
The Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited, the electricity distributor, had told the court that NOC was required as certain poles would have to be erected for providing proper electricity on the land.
Petitioner Hariom, who claims to be a social worker working for the welfare of minority migrants who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India, had moved the court last year highlighting that over 200 families of minority migrants from Pakistan, mostly from Sindh, were living in Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar without electricity for the past few years.
The court, in its order, noted that the migrants, who arrived in the country on a long-term visa, were poor people without a permanent place of shelter and possessed Aadhaar cards.
Lawyer for the petitioner had told the court that other similarly placed migrants from Pakistan, who are living in Majnu-ka-tila, have been provided prepaid metre/electricity connection.
“Migrants who have come to India from Pakistan on account of their religious persecution believed that coming to India will give their kids a bright and safe future, but their present existence without electricity in the slum has shattered all their dreams of meaningful existence. During the pandemic when all schools have gone online, there is no electricity in the jhuggis (slums) and the future of their children is in the dark,” the PIL has said.
The plea has sought direction for providing electricity connection to the migrants on the basis of their Aadhaar card, long-term visa and passport under the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (Supply Code and Performance Standards) Regulations, 2017 and to also include these documents as identity proof and Aadhaar card as proof of occupancy.