This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by iProbono. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Realities Of Accessing The ‘Right to Housing’ In India

More from iProbono

In August 2017, the Delhi High Court declared 14 residents of Rajeev Camp eligible for rehabilitation and relocation after their houses were demolished in February 2017. Rajeev Camp is a Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) Cluster[1] in East Delhi, neighbouring the National Highway 24. When iProbono met the residents, they were residing in tarpaulin tents next to the highway, with limited resources available. Out of the initial 77 residents, more than half had dispersed and were not traceable; the rest wanted to fight for rehabilitation.

It was an uphill battle for the residents as no one had the necessary documents under the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB)’s Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 to be declared eligible for rehabilitation. iProbono wrote representations to various government bodies before approaching the High Court through Civil Appellate Panel lawyer, Robin David. A Writ petition was filed challenging the denial of housing and demonstrating that many of the residents were living in Rajeev Camp from 1995.

Despite the High Court’s positive judgement, the battle to assert their right to housing continues. After multiple representations and follow-ups, the residents were finally allocated houses last month, but not all of them have been able to move in; seven people have been given the keys to their flat while others are still overcoming bureaucratic and financial hurdles. This demonstrates the difficulty of realising economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) for economically vulnerable communities in India despite the protections afforded under the national and international legislation.

Fifty-five-year-old Laxmi[2] was elated when she received the news that her family was one of the few declared eligible for rehabilitation by the Court. The joy soon turned to worry as she had to start collecting ₹1,42,000 ($2200) as a deposit within three months to get the flat that was rightfully, and now legally, hers. Laxmi’s husband is the sole breadwinner. He works as a daily wage earner. It took her five months of going to banks and micro-credit lenders, only to face rejection. She then started asking everyone she knew for a loan. Two months after depositing the money, the lenders are already asking that she return the money at 10-20% interest. While she no longer has to worry about paying rent, she must now save money for the next several years to pay back her high-interest loan.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) provides that the State must take steps to ensure the realisation of the right to an adequate standard of living, which includes housing. Sudama Singh & others v. Government of Delhi & another (MANU/DE/0353/2010) recognises the responsibility of the State to provide housing as India is a party to the ICESCR. Referring to this precedent, the High Court in Laxmi’s case said, “It is trite that the right to housing is an essential part of Right to Life and a fundamental right ensured by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.[3]

India has demonstrated the intent to provide housing for all. In fact, the Central government and various states have not only created and implemented several schemes to forward the mission of housing for all in recent years, but the first housing policies were proposed immediately post-independence.[4] On the basis of Sudama Singh, Delhi Master Plan advocated for in-situ rehabilitation.[5] There are, however, 675 JJ Clusters, which are built on state land; most of these clusters have not been relocated. While rehabilitation procedures are followed in some cases, many JJ clusters have to approach the court for their right to housing.

Laxmi’s example demonstrates that while it is a necessary first step to have progressive judgments such as Udal and Ors. V. State, the judiciary also needs to recognise the interconnected factors that enable the right to adequate housing.  Laxmi was unable to access any state financial resources. She was unable to pay her deposit in instalments, which means that now she is debt-ridden for the immediate future despite having possession of her property. Going further back to why most of the residents, including Laxmi, were unable to produce documents further shows the difficulty of the economically marginalised. Due to a combination of losing belongings in a fire and alleged bureaucratic prohibitions on the creation of official documents from that district, the residents did not have access to basic government documents demonstrating their residency. The Right to Housing is deeply connected to other factors. The Court took note of this with regards to access to livelihood stating that –

Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that the National Capital Territory of Delhi attracts people, especially poor people, from all over the country who come to the city in search of work and must reside reasonably near to their place of work.[6]

Civil society groups and evicted JJ dwellers have used the law to access their right to housing. To be able to follow this in principle, the courts must also look at the interconnected ESCR and acknowledge this in their decisions. For the almost 19 million people who are facing housing shortages, justiciability of the right to housing will only become a reality if it comes alongside the recognition that there are other interconnected impediments like lack of documentation, access to resources like loan, savings and limited legal literacy, which need to be in place for effective right to housing. [7]


[1] ’Jhuggi Jhopri’ is the term referred to slums in India. The term is used in government policies and judgments.

[2] Name changed to protect the identity of the person.

[3] Udal & Ors v. State. W.P. (C) 5378 of 2017. Para 14.

[5] Rehabilitation in the same location as the JJ cluster.

[6] Ibid Para 15.

[7] http://wghr.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Fact-Sheet-01-Right-to-Edequate-Housing.pdf


iProbono hopes to empower vulnerable individuals by sharing content that raises awareness around legislation, case law and constitutional provisions available to them. The article is written by Shohini Banerjee, Program Manager at iProbono.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

You must be to comment.

More from iProbono

Similar Posts

By Aastha Singh

By Nandini priya

By Dewanshu Dwivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below