Urban Homeless: SC raps government, says people without shelter can’t be left to fend for themselves

07 September 2018, 11:47 PM
SC on Urban homeless: People without shelter can’t be left to fend for themselves
SC on Urban homeless: People without shelter can’t be left to fend for themselves

Rapping the government over the urban homeless issue, the Supreme Court on Friday said the people without shelter cannot be “left to fend for themselves” and urged implementation of the “Grand plans”.

“Housing is a basic need for everybody. When there is a policy of the Union of India, it has to be implemented by all,” the Supreme Court said.

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The Supreme Court had directed 12 states and union territories to notify the names of civil societies members in their committees to take care of the needs of the urban homeless. For failing to do so, the court slapped fines on these states and UTs and ordered them to deposit the cost within three weeks to the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority.

These states and UTs had not yet notified the names, despite the court’s order to this effect on March 22, the Supreme Court said.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slapped Rs 1 lakh fine each on Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Goa, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Odisha and Tripura, while a fine of Rs 5 lakh was imposed on Haryana.

“We make it clear that unless necessary steps are taken by the states/UTs, we have no option but to impose heavy cost particularly since winters are coming and persons without shelter cannot be left to fend for themselves,” the bench said.

The bench observed the need to take necessary steps in view of the approaching cold season.

“These people (officials) do not want to work. What is to be done,” the bench asked and added “You (Centre) come out with grand plans but nobody implements them”.

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“We require all the states and UTs to formulate a plan of action, if not already done, on or before October 31, 2018. The plan of action will include identification of homeless persons, providing them with some identification, nature of shelter required etc,” the court said.

The bench directed that this information be provided to the Centre by first week of November.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that government officials who were part of the committee were not attending the meetings of the panels in some states and in Rajasthan, the principal secretary had also not attended the meeting.

The bench took strong note of this and directed that the members of the committee would have to attend all the meetings of the committee.

At the outset, the ASG, appearing for the ministry, told the bench that three meetings of the committee have been convened in Delhi, Karnataka and Puducherry while in Bihar and West Bengal, two meetings have been held. In 23 states and UTs, one meeting of the committee has been held.

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The ASG said the states and UTs would have to notify it and take appropriate steps to deal with the issue.

Initially, the court slapped a cost of Rs one lakh on Haryana, but later the counsel appearing for the state told the bench that they have complied with the court’s order.

When the court perused the document handed over by the counsel for Haryana, it said that the name of civil society member have not yet been notified. The bench thereafter enhanced the amount of cost imposed on Haryana to Rs five lakh.

The Centre had earlier told the court that several states have not yet constituted the committee to deal with the issues of implementation of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM).

The apex court had expressed shock that welfare schemes were not being effectively implemented even after spending thousands of crores of rupees on them.

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The petitioners had referred to a report of the apex court-appointed committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir and said a number of shelter homes in some of the states were much less than what was required.

The bench, however, did not fine Kerala and Uttarakhand considering the “peculiar circumstances” in these two states due to the natural disasters there.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Friday, September 07, 2018 06:12 PM
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