Court denies interim order against KMC’s eviction notice to squattersLawyers on both sides have interpreted the order as a decision in their favour.
The Patan High Court on Thursday refused to pass an interim order against the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s notice to evict squatters from various settlements along riverbanks in Kathmandu.
Hearing petitions filed by the squatters, a division bench of judges Rajyalaxmi Bajracharya and Narayan Prasad Paudel of the high court concluded that there was no need to issue an interim order as demanded by the petitioners.
The petitioners moved the High Court after the City office on March 25 published a notice asking ‘the illegal settlers’ to leave their settlements along the riverbanks.
The court, however, stated that it doesn’t become immediately clear from the petition as to in which place and from when the petitioners have been living there.
“If the petitioners are landless squatters and have been staying there for a long time in the areas stated in the notice of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and can give evidence to prove that they don’t have any place to live anywhere else, the government of Nepal and the Kathmandu Metropolis will obviously make the necessary arrangements,” reads the court order issued on Wednesday. “In this context, the overall issues mentioned in the petition will certainly be addressed in the final hearings. Therefore, there is no need to issue an interim order as demanded by the petitioners.”
Lawyer Raju Prasad Chapagain, who pleaded on behalf of the petitioners, said as per the court’s ruling, the KMC should ensure living arrangements for the squatters before they are evicted from their settlements.
“The City can’t remove the homeless squatters until the court gives its final verdict on the issue,” Chapagain said. He added the issue can be settled once the national land commission collects the data of real squatters in coordination with the local governments.
Chapagain also gave the reference of letters written by three UN special rapporteurs on January 30. The letters mentioned the imminent threat of forced evictions and home demolitions of squatters by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City without plans for adequate alternative housing for the squatters.
Squatters living on the banks of Bagmati river in Thapathali faced forced eviction by the City at the end of November last year, in a move that activists say goes against the right to a life in dignity. This was the second time that the residents of Thapathali faced forced evictions after their homes were initially demolished in 2012.
Meanwhile, advocate Om Prakash Aryal, who is also a legal adviser for the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, interpreted the order to mean that the high court has given the City a way out to go forward with its action.
“The court in its decision has clearly said that the petitioners need to clearly prove they are genuine squatters and if they can do so, the Nepal government and KMC should take care of them, but they came to the court without any evidence,” Aryal said.
He further accused the applicants of not giving exact locations of where they live, and have not presented any evidence of being actual squatters. “But if they come to the KMC with evidence of being genuine squatters, the City should consider it,” Aryal added.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City office has unsuccessfully tried to evict illegal squatters living in the settlements along the Bagmati and other riverbanks.
In November last year, squatters at the Thapathali settlement thwarted the City’s plan to evict them. As the municipal police reached there to vacate the area, squatters clashed with the security personnel. Several persons sustained injuries during the ensuing scuffle.