Govt. has adopted berth area measurements used by Railways

A fortnight after being pulled up by the Delhi High Court for the pitiable condition of homeless persons here, the Delhi Government on Wednesday said it had adopted 15 square feet as the minimum area required for comfortable stay of one homeless person in a night shelter.

The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) told a Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed that “in absence of any norms prescribing space requirement of an individual or a family, it has in principle adopted the berth area used by the Railways, i.e., 15 sq. ft. as the minimum area required for comfortable stay of one person in a night shelter.”

It said the same was also adopted in view of the fact that it was difficult to get adequate space at places where there is concentration of homeless persons.

The DUSIB made the submission in an affidavit filed in response to court’s query on how much space is sufficient for an individual or a family of 10 for a comfortable stay in the night shelter.

The court was hearing a matter pertaining to homeless people in the city, of which it had taken suo motu cognisance.

Advocate Reena George, who is representing the homeless people, also told the court that the government was not making payment to the NGOs running voluntary night shelters.

At this, the Bench noted the DUSIB’s submission that additional payments had been sanctioned by the Government and directed that the amount be paid before March 26.

The Board said after the amended Master Plan 2021, it had constructed 231 night shelters for nearly 150 lakh people. Of these, 84 are permanent shelters, 98 porta cabins, 22 tents and 27 are shelters run by voluntary organisations. A compliance affidavit was also filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Police Headquarters. It detailed 17 cases of harassment of homeless people, allegedly at the hands of police personnel leading to deaths, implication in criminal cases, etc.


  • There an “absence of any norms prescribing space requirement of an individual or a family….”

  • The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the plight of the homeless people in the city