Coming down hard on the Uttar Pradesh government over reports that 40 children had died in its relief camps in riot-torn Muzaffarnagar, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed it to take immediate steps to ensure there were no such deaths in future, especially with winter setting in.
Hindustan Times had recently, in a series of ground reports, written about sufferings and deaths in the relief camps, set up after riots in August-September that claimed more than 40 lives.
Taking note of these reports, a bench headed by chief justice of India P Sathasivam said, “We read in the newspapers about the death of children in relief camps. Even Parliament discussed this. It is a matter of serious concern.”
“We direct the state to ascertain the correctness of the reports… and file a report on the next date of hearing on January 2, 2014… The state is directed to take all measures, including medical, and provide remedies to affected people from tomorrow morning.”
The court wondered how conditions were so bad despite its direction that adequate measures be taken.
Representing the state government, senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan contended that authorities were aware of alleged negligence by nodal officers. “We would definitely take steps and respond to this as it concerns the right to shelter,” he said.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for one of the petitioner NGOs, said a probe had been conducted into the child deaths and its details would be provided to the court.