The Supreme Court Wednesday observed it was "extremely unfortunate" that Jharkhand government has not yet prepared an action plan for urban homeless and said that the state should do it soon so that such people were "spared the vagaries of winter season".
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur was informed that except states of Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, all other states and union territories have finalised action plans for urban homeless for the winter season.
When the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, asked Jharkhand's counsel about it, the lawyer said he has received instructions only this morning and sought a days time to apprise the court about it.
"It appears that the state of Jharkhand has no plan for the winter. This is extremely unfortunate. We expect the state of Jharkhand to prepare a plan within next couple of days so that urban homeless are spared the vagaries of the winter season," the bench said.
The counsel appearing for Jammu and Kashmir said as per 2011 census, the number of urban homeless in the state was around 250 and provisions have been made to provide blankets and other facilities to them.
The lawyer said the action plan would be handed over to the petitioner within two-three days.
The bench directed the states and union territories, which have formulated a plan for winter season for urban homeless, to implement it with "all due seriousness and earnestness so that shelter is provided to the homeless".
The counsel appearing for the Centre told the bench that "user fee" for availing the facilities at shelter homes for urban homeless was "voluntary" and no identification papers were contemplated under any of the action plans.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the petitioners, told the court that a central committee should be appointed to oversee all these plans related to urban homeless and there should also be social audits of such shelter homes.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of February.
The apex court had earlier expressed shock that welfare schemes were not being effectively implemented even after spending thousands of crores of rupees on them.
The petitioners had referred to a report of apex court-appointed committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice Kailash Gambhir and said a number of shelter homes in some of the states were much less than what was required.
(With inputs from agencies.)