ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Legal Rights to a Moral Claim

Strategic Approaches to the Right to Housing

The Legal Right to Housing in India by Anindita Mukherjee, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2019; pp 224, $44.99.

 

While the Constitution of India does not guarantee its citizens the “right to housing” per se, it does allow space to interpret its existence and accord such protection in some ways. The call for a “right to housing” in India, therefore, is not new. As per the 2011 Census, nearly three million people are homeless, and more than 65 million people live in houses that lack basic amenities, such as water, sanitation, and cooking faci­lities. The report of the “Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hyg­iene and Housing Condition” survey of the 76th round of the National Sample Survey shows that 4.9% Indians were living in a notified slum, while a greater proportion, that is, 10.9% were living in non-notified slums (MOSPI 2018). A further 2.8% were living in squatter settlements.

The current pandemic may further result in renewing the demand for the “right to housing” with greater impetus for the daily wage workers and internal migrant workers—who live in such informal settlements—and who, due to the sudden imposition of the lockdown, were left as “stateless,” only to be treated by the law enforcing agencies as equivalent to ruminant animals. The Ministry of Home Affairs order dated 28 March 2020 requiring internal migrant workers, who were on their way back to their home states, to stop and then forcefully ask them to stay instead in government shelter homes was nothing less than a criminal negligence as these shelter homes were highly crowded and ­often lacked basic hygiene and pushed them towards high risk of infection. It is in this context that the book under ­review is of immense importance.

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Updated On : 27th Jan, 2022
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