April 8, 2014:
Majnu and his family live in makeshift huts along a river of sewage, with no running water or sanitation facilities. If not bad enough already, when it rains, the river rises, flooding the homes with raw sewage. Sadly, this an all too common story in India. In fact, Majnu’s community is one of the “success” stories: after being evicted from their previous homes, the community received a positive judgment for rehabilitation from the Delhi High Court.
During Spring Break, my team and I had the incredible opportunity to speak with Majnu and others living in similar situations in Delhi as part of a research project through the International Human Rights Clinic. Our team worked closely with out our partner organization, Nazdeek. The project seeks to identify the causes of housing problems in New Delhi and advocate for a more coherent and sustainable housing policy. To that end, in addition to meeting with slum dwellers, we were able to interview judges, policy makers, and housing activists. The experience and perspective gained on the ground was invaluable to our work; it’s one thing to research housing policies and caselaw from Chicago, but quite different to actually speak with people who make, enforce and are affected by the policies.
In preparation for the trip, our team researched and drafted memos on housing policies in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and Chicago. Nazdeek believed that an analysis of these countries would be a helpful point of comparison for New Delhi. However, during the trip, it became much more than that. In a meeting with Justice A.P. Shah, the former Chief Judge of the Delhi High Court and current Chairman of the Law Commission of India, we learned that he was interested in developing a framework for a national housing rights bill in India. He was very interested in reading our memos as points of comparison. The memos we prepared during the Fall Quarter in Chicago turned into a presentation in front of the Law Commission of India.
Moving forward, we plan to use what we learned in Delhi to draft a memo examining the existing housing law and policy scheme in New Delhi, including case law and international human rights law relevant to the city. The memo will also incorporate the findings from our trip and will be submitted to the Law Commission of India for its consideration, as it prepares to draft a framework for national housing rights bill. This amazing opportunity is exactly the type of work I hoped to get out of the clinic. My hope is that our contribution can be used to help the situation of communities like Majnu’s and others in New Delhi and across India.
Housing is a core component of the right to an adequate standard of living. Read More.
It is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Right to Life, observes Supreme Court of India. Read More.
State has to guarantee that the right to health is available, accessible and of high quality. Read More.