Taking up cudgels on behalf of the Capital’s homeless, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi not to remove any night shelter in the city till the winter is over or till alternative arrangements are made.
Observing that “the homeless have the right to shelter, life and livelihood”, a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice B. D. Ahmed and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the civic body to submit an action plan on how it would make arrangements for night shelters to accommodate the city’s homeless by January 19.
The Court also observed that on an average there should be one night shelter in an area with a one-lakh population.
Counsel for the Delhi Development Authority submitted that about one per cent of the Capital’s population was homeless.
As per this calculation, the city would require many more night shelters to cater to the need of the homeless, the Bench said.
Referring to the explanation of the civic body for the demolition of the night shelter on Pusa Road in Central Delhi on December 22 last, the Bench observed: “We do not expect any modern civilised society to allow its people to die, whether it is the Commonwealth Games or any other thing. This trend cannot be allowed.’’
Earlier, counsel for the civic body informed the Bench that the Capital had a total of 43 night shelters of which 22 were run by it and the rest by the Delhi Government.
Calling the number insufficient, the Bench said each night shelter should have space for accommodating 150 homeless.
Taking a tough stand, the Bench said: “It is the prime responsibility of the State to provide the homeless a shelter, and we are reminding them of the same and it should be ensured that this will be followed in letter and spirit.’’
The Bench was hearing a suo motu petition on the basis of media reports about the demolition of the Pusa Road night shelter by the local body on December 22.
The Bench had at the last hearing pulled up the civic body for razing the shelter without making alternative arrangements for the 250-odd homeless people staying there.
Ten days after the demolition, a 35-year-old balloon vendor had died due to the sever cold after being driven out of the shelter.