Mathew Idiculla


In Ajay Maken v Union of India, a case concerning the legality of the demolition of Shakur Basti in Delhi, a division bench of the Delhi High Court held that slum-dwellers possess the right to housing and shall be protected from forced and unannounced eviction. In arriving at its verdict, the Court invoked an idea popular in urban social movements and international law- ‘The Right to the City’. But what is this Right to the City? And how is it relevant in Indian jurisprudence? This paper examines the meaning and relevance of the Right to the City and explores how it may be exercised and realized in the Indian city. It considers how the Right to the City is articulated globally in national and international legal instruments, traces the Indian jurisprudence on the right to housing, and explicates the political practices of claiming urban spaces in India. This paper argues that for the idea of the Right to the City in India to realize its potential it needs to go beyond a framework based in law and include political strategies that make claims over housing and urban spaces. It argues that the Right to the City is an inherently political and radical claim about remaking cities that challenge the rationalities of laws and masterplans. The paper hence considers both legal and political pathways for realizing the Right to the City and the Right to Housing in India.

Custom Citation

Mathew Idiculla, 'A Right to the Indian City? Legal and Political Claims over Housing and Urban Space in India' (2020) 16(1) Socio-Legal Review 1

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