NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 16: The Supreme Court has slammed 12 States and Union Territories including 4 Northeastern States for not notifying the names of civil societies members in their committees to take care of the needs of the urban homeless, while slapping fines on them ranging from Rs 1-5 lakh.
Taking the Government to task on the issue of urban homeless, the apex Court recently said the people without shelter cannot be “left to fend for themselves” as there were “grand plans” which were not implemented.
Noting that housing was a basic need for everyone especially in view of the approaching winter, it observed that submissions given on behalf of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on the issue depicted a “sorry state of affairs” as these States and the UTs had not yet notified the names, despite the court’s order to this effect on March 22.
A Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slapped a cost of Rs 1 lakh each on 9 States and UTs of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Goa and Odisha, while a cost of Rs 5 lakh was imposed on Haryana.
“We make it clear that unless necessary steps are taken by the States/UTs, we have no option but to impose heavy cost particularly since winters are coming and persons without shelter cannot be left to fend for themselves,” the bench said.
“Housing is a basic need for everybody. When there is a policy of the Union of India, it has to be implemented by all,” the apex Court said and directed these States and UTs to deposit the cost within 3 weeks to the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority.
It directed these States and UTs to issue notification in this regard within 2 weeks.
When the issue of inaction by several States and UTs on notifying the names of civil society members in the committees came up, the Bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) ANS Nadkarni, “Why are they not doing it?”
The Bench observed that winter season was approaching and if necessary steps were not taken by the states and UTs, the homeless people would have to suffer a lot.
It said “we require all the States and UTs to formulate a plan of action, if not already done, on or before October 31, 2018. The plan of action will include identification of homeless persons, providing them with some identification, nature of shelter required, etc.”
The Bench directed that this information be provided to the Centre by first week of November.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the Bench that Government officials who were part of the committee were not attending the meetings of the panels in some States. The Bench took strong note of this and directed that the members of the committee would have to attend all the meetings of the committee.
The apex Court had expressed shock that welfare schemes were not being effectively implemented even after spending thousands of crores of rupees on them. (PTI)