Court summons top official over state of night shelters

Court summons top official over state of night shelters

‘Need to set right thoroughly unsatisfactory situation’

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday observed that the provision of night shelters in the capital was ‘thoroughly unsatisfactory’ and summoned the CEO of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to assist the court in coming out with ‘better and humane’ shelters.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B D Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul took the decision to call the DUSIB chief after it was informed by counsel Jayant Bhushan that most of the night shelters were operating in inhuman conditions.

“Since the issues have not been adequately resolved by the agencies before us, particularly DUSIB, it requires the CEO of DUSIB to assist this court for resolving the issue. The CEO shall remain present in court on the next date of hearing,” the bench said posting the matter for April 2.

During the hearing, Bhushan said the city’s homeless were forced to sleep under ‘inhuman condition in cramped spaces’ at night shelters made similar to a railway berth.It said the space given to each individual to spend the night was inadequate.

Taking note of the submission, the bench said: “DUSIB has to come out with better and humane norms. You want Delhi to be a world class city, but a large chunk of the population still sleeps on the roads.”

During the hearing, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) refuted the claim of DUSIB that it was not provided land.

“We have given them land as and when DUSIB applied to us,” the DDA counsel said.The court suo motu took up for hearing the case of the absence of enough night shelters in the city and the lack of basic facilities in the existing ones.

In another matter, Justice Manmohan directed the Delhi government to provide proper facilities in a night shelter at Motia Khan for pregnant and lactating women.

The court was hearing a plea filed by a woman who lost her two-month-old daughter last year as a result of poor living conditions and inadequate nutrition at the Motia Khan shelter home. The court directed the government to ensure that cleanliness is maintained at night shelter homes.

“The government to dedicate a proper space with curtains with a bed as well as wash-basin so that check-ups of pregnant and lactating mothers can be carried out in that room by doctors.

Even doctors who attend to pregnant women in the shelter room at Motia Khan are directed to examine them in the room so dedicated,” the court said.The court also directed the municipal authorities to ensure that the neighbourhood around the shelter homes is kept clean.