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MCD demolishes shanty of Pratima Devi, rendering her and 200 dogs homeless, Delhi HC orders status quo

On Tuesday, January 3, the shanty was completely demolished. A petition was filed on behalf of Pratima Devi in the Delhi High Court.

On January 3, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) demolished a shanty where Pratima Devi, popularly known as ‘Amma’, lived. Pratima Devi also called the ‘Dog lady’ of Delhi, is an octogenarian (between the ages of 80 and 89) who has been taking care of over 200 stray dogs for over 30 years. As per reports, the demolition took place in two phases.

On Monday, January 2, the civic body took casual action against her, while on Tuesday, January 3, the shanty was completely demolished. A petition was filed on behalf of Pratima Devi in the Delhi High Court. One-Judge bench led by Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri issued a stay order and ordered the civic body to maintain the status quo. Notably, in December last year, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 134 out of 250 seats in MCD, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 104 seats. The shanty was located in Saket, which falls under Lado Sarai, where AAP’s Rajeev Sansanwal had won the MCD election. However, the candidates who won the election are yet to take the oath.

In a statement to the news agency ANI, Pratima Devi said, “MCD workers demolished my jhuggi and shop. They took away my belongings and also beat my dogs. I have at least 250-300 dogs. I am sitting under the tree now with my dogs.”

She added, “Since morning, the dogs have not been fed. I came to Delhi in 1984. Since then, I have been taking care of dogs. I am 80 years old now. I do not have the physical strength to move around or look for work. I want to stay here and care for these dogs for as long as I live.”

Pratima Devi is a well-known dog lover in the area. Following the demolition drive made headlines, people reached out to her for help and delivered food for the dogs and warm clothes for her.

Animal lovers have expressed their dismay over the action by the MCD. An animal lover identified as Sooraj spoke to ANI and said, “In this severe cold where people find it difficult to leave the house, the woman is helping so many stray dogs by sheltering them. People should help her. The action taken by MCD is wrong. No notice was given before the action. Taking care of so many dogs is not an easy task, but she is giving homes to so many dogs and providing them with food and water. She is also taking full care of them, people should come forward to help her.”

Reportedly, many people who cannot manage their dogs leave them to Pratima Devi, who gives them shelter and food. Notably, MCD took action against her shanty in 2017 as well.

Delhi High Court ordered to maintain status quo

Advocates Vaibhav Gaggar, Monica Lakhanpal, Kokila Kumar and Shivani Sethi represented Pratima Devi in the court. Advocates Siddhant Nath and Arun Panwar represented MCD.

In the petition, the counsels of Pratima Devi alleged that her shanty was demolished without any prior notice, which is “not only against the principles of natural justice but also illegal and unlawful, and the same has resulted in leaving the petitioner without a roof over her head in the harsh winter”.

As per the Hindustan Times report, MCD opposed the petition and said she should look for an alternative location. Devi’s counsel informed the court about the nonavailability of an alternate shelter to support the stray dogs. The counsels alleged that behavioural changes in the dogs could lead to “instability” in the area.

The court ordered to maintain the status quo and asked respondents to explore the possibility of rehabilitation. Source: Delhi High Court

The court issued a stay order on the demolition and ordered MCD to maintain the status quo until the next hearing on March 15, 2023. The court also allowed the petitioner to put a tarpaulin as an interim measure as an alternate shelter. While issuing notice to MCD and the Delhi Government, the court asked both respondents to explore the possibility of providing for the petitioner’s rehabilitation.

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