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Urban homeless: SC pulls up UP & WB, summons chief secretaries

by AnkitaDecember 14, 2017

The Supreme Court today pulled up governments of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal for showing “lack of concern” over the issue of providing shelter to urban homeless in their states and asked their chief secretaries to appear before it.

The top court, after going through the affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh, observed it was quite clear that the state was unable to provide shelter to urban homeless and implement the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) scheme.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta expressed anguish that West Bengal government has not filed an affidavit giving all particulars, including a road map on the issue, despite the apex court’s direction.

When the lawyer appearing for West Bengal government told the court that they would file the affidavit today, the bench observed, “this is total lack of concern for urban homeless.

Your state has not done it. This cannot go on. You tell us one thing and your state government do something else.”

The bench directed the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to appear before it on January 10 to inform it as to how these states proposes to implement the NULM scheme.

At the outset, the apex court referred to the affidavit filed by Uttar Pradesh government and said that state has no plans on urban homeless and it was not possible for it to implement the scheme.

“It is impossible for you (Uttar Pradesh) to implement the scheme,” the bench said, adding, “look at your roadmap. It is zero, nothing is there”.

“It (scheme) started in 2013. For four years, you have done nothing. You admit it that you cannot do it. You do not have land, money and perhaps you do not have the will,” the court told the counsel representing Uttar Pradesh

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, argued that the court should crack the whip on these states.

“Land is given to big capitalists but land is not available to provide shelter for poor people. You (court) have to crack the whip,” he said, adding that something drastic has to be done.

Meanwhile, the bench referred to an affidavit filed by the Centre and said the Union of India has suggested the court to appoint a committee in each states to deal with the issue of urban homeless.

The Centre also apprised the court that a special audit has been directed to look into the aspect of utilisation of funds by Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal given under the scheme.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Haryana, placed on record a vision document on urban homeless in the state along with a road map and timeline.

The bench purused the document placed by Mehta and asked the Centre to circulate it to other states as well.

The apex court had on November 23 directed these states to place before it a roadmap on implementation of scheme for urban homeless, saying it was the government’s “obligation” to help these poor people.

The petitioners had earlier referred to the report of the apex court-appointed committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir and said the number of shelter homes in these states were much less than what was required.

The court is first dealing with the status of three states — Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh — among 11 and two Union Territories which have been highlighted by the apex court-appointed committee to oversee implementation of NULM scheme across the country.

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