UN remark on Khori Gaon eviction unfortunate, abuse of position: India

United Nations/Geneva: India on Saturday termed as “unfortunate” and “abuse of position” remarks by a group of UN human rights experts, who had called on New Delhi to halt evictions of about 100,000 people in Khori Gaon in Faridabad, saying they should desist from undermining upholding rule of law in any democratic society.

“It is unfortunate that the Special Rapporteurs have chosen to issue a Press Release just two days after sending a joint communication to this Mission and not waiting for a response,” the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva and other International Organisations said in a statement.

Khori Gaon eviction case

Last month, the Supreme Court directed Haryana and the Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments”, consisting around 10,000 residential construction, in Aravali forest area near the village, saying “land grabbers cannot take refuge in the rule of law” and talk of “fairness”.

A vacation bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari sought compliance report from the state government ‘s officials after removing all encroachments from forest land near Lakarpur Khori village in Faridabad district within six weeks.

Khori Gaon eviction: UN’s response

The UN human rights experts included Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor and Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Cecilia Jimenez-Damary.

Special Rapporteur on minority issues Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the right to education Koumbou Boly Barry were also part of the group of UN human rights experts.

Special Rapporteurs are part of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system.

The UN human rights experts called on India to halt evictions of about 100,000 people in Khori Gaon in Faridabad, saying it was “particularly important” that residents are kept safe during the pandemic and terming the Supreme Court removal order as “extremely worrying.”

The UN human rights experts had said that they “find extremely worrying that India’s highest court, which has in the past led the protection of housing rights, is now leading evictions placing people at risk of internal displacement and even homelessness, as is the case in Khori Gaon.”

Khori Gaon eviction: Centre’s response 

The Indian mission said that “it is equally unfortunate that the Special Rapporteurs have made disrespectful remarks against the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. It is a worrying trend and an abuse of the position of the Special Rapporteurs which seriously damages the credibility of the institution of Special Rapporteurs.”

India expressed hope that the Special Rapporteurs will undertake genuine efforts to understand the importance of upholding the “rule of law’ in any democratic society and should desist from undermining the same.

“India is fully aware of its international human rights obligations and has undertaken all requisite steps towards full implementation of all its human rights obligations. India’s commitment to promotion and protection of human rights, including through its membership of the Human Rights Council, is well established,” the Indian mission said.

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