New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday slammed the Centre and state governments for lackadaisical approach in providing night shelters to the poverty-stricken in urban areas despite availability of sufficient funds and set up a committee to verify their availability.
"Yet another winter approaches and enough has not been done for protection of many homeless in our towns/cities," a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said while expressing concern over the slow progress in providing night shelters.
"In spite of the availability of funds and a clear mechanism through which to disburse them, there was an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs on the ground.
"A careful consideration of the submissions of parties and the material on record discloses that the destitute in urban areas continue to suffer without shelters," the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said.
It noted that the Centre has been constantly claiming steady progress but National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) report suggests to the contrary.
"Providing the requisite infrastructure is only the first step. Thereafter the other facilities have to be provided and proper maintenance of the shelter homes has to be ensured. The mission of National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) scheme remains a distant dream even after lapse of a long period," the bench said.
The bench directed that a Committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir be constituted to verify the availability of night shelters, if they are in compliance of the operational guidelines under NULM and to inquire into the reasons for slow progress in setting up of shelter homes by the States/Union Territories.
"Committee shall further inquire about non-utilisation and/or diversion/misutilisation of funds allocated for the Scheme for providing shelters to the urban homeless.
"The Committee shall issue suitable recommendations to the States to ensure that at least temporary shelters are provided for the homeless in urban areas to protect them during winter season. The State Governments shall ensure compliance with the recommendations along the time frame indicated by the Committee," it said and directed the panel to submit a report within four months.