Delhi high court directed the government to immediately reopen 84 temporary night shelters and also ensure that all other such shelters become functional.
It was irked by the closure of the temporary night shelters in the city against its orders.
The order came a day after Supreme Court asked all state governments to provide night shelters to ensure that no one dies of cold.
Cracking the whip on Delhi government, a division bench of acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the government and Delhi urban shelter improvement board to restart the shelters. Wondering if the government couldn’t see the homeless in the city, the judges also directed it to equip the shelters with all the basic facilities.
HC rejected the contention of Delhi government that a majority of night shelters in the city were lying unused and there was no need to construct more such shelters. HC maintained that in view of the increasing population and the cold, the city needs one night shelter per lakh population. “A total of 186 night shelters have to be in the city to meet the requirements,” the bench said.
The government had contended that while the existing 64 permanent night shelters had the capacity to accommodate 12,000 people, the occupancy has been a mere 2,000. Plans were afoot to construct 46 additional permanent night shelters against the proposal of only 36 shelters by the NGO that runs night shelters, it said. The court criticized the government for closing down the temporary night shelters in violation of its previous order in August this year.
“How can the government close the temporary night shelters despite clear cut directions of this court,” the judges remarked and directed the authorities to restart the 84 night shelters.
HC rejected the contention of Delhi government that a majority of night shelters in the city were lying unused