The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to convene a meeting of Chief Secretaries of all States and Administrators of Union Territories within 10 days on provision of night shelters to the homeless during winter.
A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice H. L. Dattu and Justices Madan B. Lokur and A.K. Sikri also asked the Ministry of Urban Development to find ways to provide necessary temporary shelters for the homeless.
The order was given on a public interest writ petition filed by advocate E.R. Kumar.
The Bench asked the Centre to file a report by Dec. 4. giving details of the action taken so far along with the outcome of the meeting of the Chief Secretaries. The Bench after hearing counsel for the parties regretted that only few States had filed their response for implementation of the scheme for shelter for urban homeless.
The CJI observed, “We can make out nothing from the affidavit. It is not clear as to what they have done.”
The counsel for Delhi, however, said that 231 night shelters had been set up in the national capital and out of them, 84 were permanent and they could provide shelter to 17,000 homeless people.
Counsel Prashant Bhushan, submitted that as per the census of the Delhi government, “there are 39,000 homeless people in the city alone and the government claims that it can provide shelter only to 17,000 persons. Moreover, these shelters lack basic civic facilities like water and sanitation.”
The Bench, however, made it clear that since the Delhi High Court was already monitoring the progress, it would combine the issue with other States and not Delhi.
In a series of orders, the apex court had stated that right to shelter was a fundamental right and no death should be caused in the winter due to lack of provision of night shelter.