The Supreme Court, upset over the Uttar Pradesh government’s submission that homeless people would have to submit ID like Aadhaar, asked on Wednesday if those who do not have such identity papers “do not exist for the Union of India or the Uttar Pradesh government”.
The apex court also expressed anguish over the criticism that it was trying to “run the government”, saying the judiciary is blamed if it points out that the executive is not doing its job.
The remarks came when the bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was hearing a matter relating to providing shelter to the urban homeless in the country, during which it took to task the Uttar Pradesh government.
A submission on Wednesday that homeless people wanting to use night shelters would have to furnish some identity proof like Aadhaar had the Supreme Court wanting to know if people without Aadhaar ID were non-existent for the government.
The bench was upset when the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary told it that some sort of identification was required to use night shelters and the homeless were asked to show their Aadhaar cards.
But this did not go down well with the court which asked Additional Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who represented Uttar Pradesh government, “if a person is homeless, how he is described in the Aadhaar card”. Mehta responded that “in all likelihood, they would not have Aadhaar”.
To this, the bench wondered if such homeless people who do not have Aadhaar “do not exist for the Union of India or the Uttar Pradesh government” and whether those who do not have identity proof will not be accommodated in shelter homes.
The Additional Solicitor-General replied that it was not correct to say that those who do not have Aadhaar do not exist, as they have other identification like voter IDs which contain their address.
“We are dealing with a human problem. Permanent address can be given for it (Aadhaar). They (urban homeless) remain a floating population,” Mehta told the bench, adding that the state was alive to the situation and trying its best to ensure that all such persons are accommodated in shelter homes.
The court then asked the Centre to consult the petitioner and other states and make available better facilities for the homeless.
The bench also gave vent to its displeasure over over criticism that “it was trying to run the government” and said it was not the executive. “You do not do your work and when we say something, we are criticised by everybody in the country that we are trying to run the government, run the country,” the bench said.