There should be system to ensure maintenance facilities at shelters run by DUSIB: HCPTI | New Delhi | Updated: 29-05-2020 15:02 IST | Created: 29-05-2020 15:02 IST
The Delhi High Court has said there should be a system in place to ensure maintenance of facilities at night shelters being run in the national capital by the state-run Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), and directed involvement of NGOs and social workers to supervise functioning of the shelters. The direction by a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar came after it was shown video recordings of a night shelter within AIIMS where there were several shortcomings like lack of drinking water, unhygienic sanitation conditions and no record being maintained of the persons visiting it.
The video recording was placed before the court pursuant to its direction on May 22 to inspect the night shelter where 22 persons tested positive for COVID-19. The high court was told that subsequent to its May 22 order, DUSIB swung into action and cleaned the toilets, and made available all the toilets for the occupants of the night shelter.
The Bench said though it appeared that after its last order, senior officials of DUSIB and Chief Secretary of Delhi "have become alive to the problems highlighted and corrective steps have been taken", there is apprehension that situation may go back to what it was once the court stops monitoring it. It also noted that though DUSIB has claimed that it is maintaining entry registers, and some of the copies of those registers have also been placed on record, "we are not convinced that the said registers are being maintained with any regularity, or seriousness". Therefore, the bench directed that a "system should be put in place where sufficient checks and vigilance is maintained with regard to maintenance of facilities at the night shelter in question, and other night shelter being run and managed by DUSIB in the NCT of Delhi".
The high court said there were several NGOs and social workers who are offering social service, only for the love of mankind, at such like night shelters. "They would be, obviously, interested in seeing that such like facilities are run efficiently and the occupants are provided the facilities and services which are necessary to maintain human dignity. "We, therefore, direct DUSIB to accredit NGOs and individual social workers who are associated with the night shelters, and to involve the NGOs and individual social workers in the matter of supervision of such like night shelters," the bench said. It said that any grievances, complaints or suggestions that DUSIB may receive in respect of any of its night shelters from such NGOs, or social workers, "should firstly be taken on record and actioned without any delay". "All such aspects should be brought to the notice of the CEO of DUSIB within a day of the complaint/suggestion being received. DUSIB shall set up/create a cell, wherein such like complaints/ suggestions could be lodged and diarised.
"This process should start within the next three working days, and should be completed within a week thereafter," the bench added and listed the matter for further hearing on June 10. The order came while hearing two PILs seeking to address the grievance of about hundred out-station patients and their attendants, residing in night shelters here, who were earlier being provided treatment for several ailments at the AIIMS which allegedly stopped treating them after COVID-19 outbreak.
In its order of May 27, the court also directed that liquid soap dispensers be also provided in the night shelter at AIIMS and the other night shelters run by DUSIB within this week. During the hearing, DUSIB also told the bench that apart from the patients and their attendants, homeless persons are also staying at the night shelters near AIIMS. However, the high court said the shelters near a government hospital are primarily created to cater to the needs of the patients receiving treatment at such hospitals. "It is well known that patients travel hundreds and thousands of kilometres to avail of treatment facilities at places, such as AIIMS. Many of them are poor and cannot afford to hire any accommodation in Delhi. "It is for persons like these, that night shelters are created in areas around hospitals. To permit others to occupy these night shelters, who may not be patients receiving treatment/ or are their attendants, would deprive other needy persons who are suffering from ailments and receiving treatment at the concerned government hospital, of such facilities," the high court said.
It further directed DUSIB to ensure that only patients and their immediate attendants are permitted to occupy the night shelters at AIIMS, and other night shelters in the vicinity of other government hospitals in Delhi. "All other occupants, who are not receiving treatment at the concerned government hospital, should be shifted to the other night shelters managed by DUSIB," the bench said..