Supreme Court: In the writ petition concerning the right to shelter of homeless persons in urban areas, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, Cj and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ noticed that in spite of the availability of funds and a clear mechanism through which to disburse them, there is an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs on the ground despite the continuous monitoring of the matter by the Court.

Considering the fact that winter is approaching and enough has not been done for protection of many homeless in the towns/cities, the Court said that a Committee should be constituted which will have Mr. Justice Kailash Gambhir, retired Judge, High Court of Delhi as its Chairman with an officer of the Joint Secretary cadre from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation to be deputed by the Union of India and an officer, serving or retired, from the Delhi Judicial Service to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi in consultation with the Chairperson of the Committee as Members. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation shall be the Nodal Ministry to provide all logistical support to the Committee.

The role of the Committee as defined by the Court is as follows:

  • To cause physical verification of the available shelters for urban homeless in each State/UT.
  • Verify whether the shelters are in compliance of the operational guidelines for the Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM).
  • Inquire into the reasons for the slow progress in the setting up of shelter homes by the States/UTs.
  • Inquire about the non-utilization and/or diversion/misutilization of the funds allocated for the “Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless” for providing shelters to the urban homeless.
  • Issue suitable recommendations to the State Governments to ensure that at least temporary shelters are provided for the homeless in the urban areas to protect them during the winter season. The State Governments shall ensure compliance with the recommendations along the time frame indicated by the Committee.

Stating that any non-implementation shall be drawn to the attention of this Court, the Court directed the Committee to submit its report within a period of four months.[E.R. Kumar v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1256, decided on 11.11.2016]

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