SC halts demolition of homeless shelters in Delhi
Scroll had reported that on the night of March 10, eight such night shelters were demolished on the Yamuna bank.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed authorities in Delhi to halt the demolition of shelters for the homeless in the Geeta Ghat area along the banks of the Yamuna river, Live Law reported. The judges also barred the authorities from demolishing any such shelters without permission from the court.
The shelters at Geeta Ghat are for the homeless citizens with special needs, such as those suffering from tuberculosis, disabilities and mental health conditions. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta was hearing a petition against the demolitions filed by social activists Harsh Mander and Indu Prakash Singh and two homeless persons, Bar and Bench reported.
The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, a Delhi government agency that looks after civic amenities and resettlement of slums and squatter settlements, has been carrying out demolition drives on homeless shelters over the last couple of months.
Scroll had reported that on the night of March 10, eight such night shelters were demolished in the area.
Activists have alleged that the portacabins and some makeshift homes were knocked down as a part of a “beautification drive” to spruce up the national capital for the Group of 20, or G20, summit in September. G20 is a forum of the largest industrialised and developing countries in the world. New Delhi is hosting a summit this year in September as part of India’s G20 presidency.
Earlier this month, the Delhi Urban Development Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj had claimed that the Urban Shelter Improvement Board demolished night shelters without informing the government.
Also read: Are shelters for the homeless in Delhi being demolished for G20?
In a separate matter, the Supreme Court had said last month that it was not possible to put a stay on the demolition of a night shelter in Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan area as the structures had already been razed. The court had said it would look into rehabilitating occupants of the night shelter.
The petition the Supreme Court heard on Tuesday was related to the demolition of the eight temporary shelters about which Scroll had reported.
The counsel for the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board told the court that arrangements had been made before the demolitions to shift the homeless. The counsel also said that there were no plans to build new shelters, Bar and Bench reported.
However, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, said that residents of the shelter had to “run helter-skelter” after the demolitions.
The court then decided to halt the demolitions. It also directed the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to submit a plan within six weeks on setting up alternative shelters for the homeless, Live Law reported.