Delhi

Set up a night shelter per one lakh population, Court tells Delhi Govt.

Directing the Delhi Government to set up one night shelter per one lakh population across the Capital as provided in the Master Plan for Delhi 2021, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed it to operationalise all 84 temporary shut-down night shelters immediately.

The Government had set up these night shelters on a direction by the Court last winter.

A Division of the Court comprising Acting Chief Justice A. K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Enlaw further directed the Government to provide all basic facilities at these night shelters.

The Bench also pulled up the Government for shutting down the temporary shelters despite its direction against their winding up in August.

The Court had then dismissed the plea of the Government to close down the temporary night shelters saying “the prayer for closure of temporary night shelters is unacceptable and the same stands rejected”.

The Government had sought closure of these shelters arguing that the occupancy rate there was very low after the winter season.

The Court had then also directed the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to constitute a panel to look after shelter homes in proper perspective so that facilities for human beings to live are available and no one should harbour a feeling that he is treated as a non-person and asked to stay like an animal in a temporary shelter home.

The Endlaw-Sikri Bench also rejected the contention of the Government that there was no need to open more permanent night shelters as the existing 64 permanent ones had the capacity to accommodate as many 12,000 homeless persons at one time but the present occupancy was as low as 2,000.

Rejecting the plea, the Bench said the Government had to provide one night shelter per one lakh population across the city as per the Master Plan.

The Bench has been hearing the matter suo motu on the basis of media reports about the demolition of a night shelter in December 2010 and the civic bodies doing nothing to protect the homeless from the cold.

A three-member committee constituted by the Court earlier this year to find out reasons for low occupancy at the permanent night shelters had blamed the non-government organisations tasked with running these shelters for it saying that they were not doing their job sincerely.

The committee had also said the homeless were not aware of the permanent shelters. The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board needed to give wide publicity about the facilities available at these shelters so that the needy could start utilising them, it had suggested.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 11:36:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/Set-up-a-night-shelter-per-one-lakh-population-Court-tells-Delhi-Govt./article13426268.ece

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