Plight of homeless in Delhi moves SC

Govt told to provide night shelters to cold-hit people

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and K S Radhakrishnan also asked the government to ensure that these night shelters had all basic amenities, including blankets, water, food and bathrooms.

Two Supreme Court commissioners had submitted a report indicting the Delhi government for neglecting its homeless people. The apex court issued the order on the basis of their report. The two former bureaucrats were appointed to help the apex court adjudicate a lawsuit to end the plight of the homeless in Delhi.

In their joint report dated January 13, court commissioner N C Saxena and special commissioner Harsh Mander told the Supreme Court that the “Delhi government has failed to take requisite steps to protect the people living on the streets from this extreme weather despite Delhi witnessing this year some of the coldest temperatures in the last decade.

“Up to now, it(Delhi government) completed the survey (and found that there are) of around 15,000 urban homeless families,’’ the report said. 

“It is imperative that the Delhi government responds to the situation immediately by setting up more shelters and protecting homeless people from the cold,” the report said.

Praying the court for a direction to provide food and water to the homeless people, the report said “it must be realised that malnutrition and huger are the underlying causes making people susceptible to extreme weather conditions.

“There is ample scientific evidence that shows that due to increase in basal metabolism rate, with the fall in temperature, higher calories are required by the body to maintain body temperature,” said the report.

The bench directed the government to publicise the location of the shelters in TV and print media so that the people would come to stay in them to beat the biting cold.

The judges had taken the issue very seriously and summoned state Food Secretary Jayshree Raghuraman, but Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran appeared for the state government.

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