A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed before the Delhi High Court on Tuesday has blamed official apathy and absence of separate shelters for rapes of homeless children and women. It has highlighted plight of homeless boys and girls below the age of 15 while seeking directions for the government to make arrangements for sheltering them. Rape of a minor near Bangla Sahib, gangrape of a women at Harkesh Nagar, a mentally-challenged woman raped near Shahbad Dairy, repeated gangrape of a minor in Mayur Vihar, (she later delivered a pre-mature child), over 34,000 dead bodies found on the road in 2016…A common thread runs among the incidents. They were all homeless.
And the foremost reason, apart from complete apathy on the part of the authorities, is the absence of shelters for homeless children and women, said a PIL in the Delhi High Court. Sugriv Dubey, counsel for social activist Salek Chand Jain, submitted the petition on Tuesday saying out of 262 shelters having 21,524 inmates, there was not a single place with clear demarcation between children and adults. This would mean that a common shelter, where the adults, in the absence of strict supervision, could escape from law despite committing sexual offences against children.
Though the master plan of 2021 for Delhi said around 19 lakh sq ft was required to house the homeless, according to a report of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, only 2.44 lakh sq ft was available, said the PIL. It also claimed that the board had sold the space allotted for the shelters to real estate agents. Though the National Urban Livelihood Mission Scheme for shelters for urban homeless said a minor girl/woman required 50sq ft of living space, this too, was kept in abeyance. The homeless children could also be provided with adequate food and medical facilities, the PIL said. Issuing notice to the state government, the first bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed authorities to submit their reply by May 4.