Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), one of the Community Legal Services (CLS) partner organisations, has recently filed a Writ Petition in the High Court on behalf of several residents of a khas land in Rangpur District. Their appeal against the unlawful eviction includes not only asking the High Court to enforce the requirement of prior notice and arrangements for rehabilitation, but also preventing any arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment in the name of eviction.
BLAST along with the evicted inhabitants of a khas land of Rangpur District filed a Writ Petition on the grounds that without taking any alternatives to the principles articulated by the law regarding rehabilitation in the cases of eviction, the forced eviction of a group of landless people is unconstitutional and in violation of the right to life and livelihood. Before evicting the residents from their dwellings, the Government must provide written notice, in accordance with the law, and through an interpretation of the state’s obligations to ensure protection from the forced eviction requiring the authorities not to carry out any eviction without prior resettlement.
The petitioner’s lawyer submitted that the threatened eviction by the local authority of twenty five landless families who had been residing in 0.62 decimals of khas land under Khatian No. 1, Plot No. 4305, Rajendrapur Mouza, Rangpur District for more than thirty five years is illegitimate, as it was done without any prior or proper resettlement as required by the law. This sort of forced eviction also violated their constitutional right slife and livelihood as guaranteed under Articles 27, 31 and 32.
On April 29, 2014, a Division Bench passed the order in public interest upon the Writ Petition filed by BLAST and the evicted inhabitants and issued a rule asking the respondents which included several government authorities about their failure to comply with the principles, articulated by the law regarding resettlement/rehabilitation in the cases of eviction and to explain why the threatened eviction of those inhabitants should not be declared to be unlawful and in violation of the fundamental rights to equality in accordance with the law. According to the Writ Petition, the High Court also directed the respective authorities to maintain the status quo regarding possession of the land. It also directed the Divisional Commissioner, Rangpur Division to dispose the application submitted by the evicted inhabitants of the land under the Government and Local Authority Lands and Buildings (Recovery of Possession) Ordinance 1970 within one month, and to treat this application as an appeal under section 10 of the Ordinance. This particular PIL case is now pending for hearing and awaiting its final disposal.