Centre asks courts to keep away from governance issue, SC says what to do when there is no governance | India News

NEW DELHI: A day after Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a gathering of SC judges and senior lawyers that judiciary should maintain restraint in interfering in issues of policy and governance, the Supreme Court on Thursday raised question on what courts should do when there is no governance and citizens’ rights are violated because of government’s apathy and inaction.

Speaking on the occasion of Independence day celebration in the premises of Supreme Court, the law minister had on Wednesday said that governance must be left to those elected by the people to govern and judiciary should respect separation of law among three organs of the state.

While hearing a PIL on implementation of Centre’s ambitious National Urban Livelihoods Mission programme to provide shelter homes to urban homeless people, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta expressed anguish that the Centre and states had failed to provide roof over the heads of poor people who are forced to live on the streets.

Without directly referring to the law minister speech, Justice Lokur said, “We have been told that governance is for the government and we cannot do anything. But there is no governance. What to do then.” Interestingly Justice Lokur was also present at independent day function when the law minister said that judiciary should maintain restraint.

The court has been monitoring the implementation of Centre’s ambitious National Urban Livelihoods Mission launched in 2013 to provide shelter to homeless people in urban areas. More than Rs 2000 crore were allocated under the scheme over the years but the homeless continue to languish on streets and the court has repeatedly appealed to governments to show “sympathy and compassion” by constructing shelter homes for them.

The apex court has been hearing PIL on providing shelter to the homeless for the last one-and-half decades and passed a slew of direction to Centre and states to build night shelters. The bench had on the last hearing directed the Centre to appoint an committee in each state comprising a retired a civil servant to the rank of Secretary to the government of India, principal secretary of urban development of the state and one senior and respected person from civil society to monitor construction of shelter homes.

As meeting of the committee did not take place and many state government failed to file status report, advocate Prashant Bhushan pleaded the bench to crack the whip and take punitive action against concerned authorities. The court, however, refrained from passing adverse order for the time being and asked the Centre to compile data on which states failed to comply with its direction.

SC had earlier appointed panel headed by a former Delhi High Judge Kailash Gambhir who in his report said that more than 90 percent of the homeless in the country have no roof over their heads as state governments have pathetically failed in setting up shelter homes.

As per 2011 census, there are 17.73 lakh homeless people in the country and around 10 lakh of it are in urban areas. 65.3% of homeless people live in five states — UP, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.. There are 146 out of every 100,000 people in India are homeless – 100 for every 100,000 people in rural India and 249 for every 100,000 in urban India.

The SC-appointee committee in its report said, “The Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has laid down 2022 as the target year to provide shelter to each and every urban homeless in the country. Undoubtedly to achieve this target looks like a dream as the road ahead appears to be very tardy and arduous, looking into the slow progress of establishing shelter homes by various States/UT’s.”

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