The Supreme Court-appointed panel has indicted the Delhi Government for violating the fundamental rights of homeless people living on streets in extreme winter by failing to take necessary steps to protect them.
In a strongly worded report, court commissioner N.C. Saxena and special commissioner Harsh Mander said these deaths could have been avoided by proper implementation of the court’s directions with regard to food schemes and provision for shelters.
The court is taking the assistance of the two in a public interest litigation filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
In their report dated January 13, Saxena and Mander said: “Delhi government has failed to take requisite steps to protect the people living on the street from this extreme weather despite Delhi witnessing this year some of the coldest temperature in the last decade.”
The report put the blame on the Delhi chief secretary by saying the court “earlier in 2002 had held that accountability of any starvation death in a state lies with its chief secretary”.
Last year, there were 46 shelters in winter. “This year, the number has been reduced to 33 (17 permanent and 16 temporary),” says the report, adding, “out of these 16 shelters, one was demolished.”
“It is imperative that the Delhi government responds to the situation immediately by setting up more shelters,” says the report.
The report also says: “malnutrition and hunger are the underlying causes making people susceptible to extreme weather conditions.”