COVID-19: SC seeks response from Centre and Delhi govt. on steps being taken to vaccinate the homeless

Homeless people being served food on the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi. File photo   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre and Delhi government to inform what steps had been taken to vaccinate homeless people to protect them from the COVID-19 virus.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud refused to take an “elitist view” to “restrain” “beggars, vagabonds and the homeless” from begging at traffic junctions, markets and public places.

The court said several socio-economic problems drove people into begging. Their poverty could not be wished away by passing an order to remove them from the streets.

However, the court took serious note of a plea by Kush Kalra, represented by advocate Mohit Paul, that the government should take measures to ensure that the homeless population was vaccinated. The court termed this a “human problem”.

“We are issuing notice to Union of India and Delhi government at this stage, since the immediate issue is of vaccinating the homeless in Delhi and to ensure medical facilities. We expect a response from the Union of India and GNCTD [The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi] on what steps are being taken to deal with this human problem,” the Bench recorded in its order.

Mr. Kalra, through advocate Paul, submitted that the homeless, in case they were ill, had no place to quarantine themselves.

Many were not aware of social distancing protocols. If COVID-19-affected, they were a danger to themselves and to others. Most of them did not have access to proper medical care or treatment. The petition said the government had to address the needs of this segment of society immediately in anticipation of a third COVID-19 wave.

The court has sought the assistance of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the case. The Bench posted the case after two weeks.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 5:47:08 AM |

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