The Allahabad High Court has directed the Commissioner of Allahabad Division to an inquiry conducted by senior officials into the status of existing permanent and temporary night shelters in the district.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by Muhim, an NGO, in which the poor upkeep of the night shelters in the district has been highlighted through a fact-finding report of law students.
The petitioner has also sought appropriate steps by the officials to ensure the conditions are improved.
Passing the order Thursday, a division bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Dilip Gupta said: “We direct the Commissioner Allahabad Division and the District Magistrate, Allahabad, to order an inquiry to be made by sufficiently senior officers subject to their jurisdiction and control to find out as to whether basic amenities are being provided in shelter homes. If the picture, portrayed in the (fact-finding) report is correct, and at this stage we have no reason to doubt veracity of the report, (then) great amount of work needs to be done for providing basic amenities.”
The court gave the authorities a week’s time to complete the inquiry and file a compliance report by January 23, and fixed January 31 as the next date of hearing. The court has also asked the petitioner to be associated with the inquiry.
A team of law students, working under the aegis of Human Rights Law Network, a civil rights organisation, had visited 10 night shelters in Allahabad, and found basic amenities missing in most places. At a few places, it was under unauthorised occupation.
The court said: “With the winter having approached in full swing, it is now necessary for the authorities to be alive to the situation and take immediate steps to make available all the necessary facilities at rain baseras (night shelters). Merely constructing structures, either of a permanent or temporary nature, is not an answer to the problem faced by the homeless.”
The court said officials must ensure conditions at night shelters help its users spend the night with dignity, especially where women were staying.