New Delhi:

Slum dwellers and homeless people moved the Delhi High Court on Thursday seeking direction to the Central Government, National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), Delhi government, Delhi police and other authorities to make adequate arrangements for their food, shelter, financial help, and employment skills and to provide them with ration cards, labour cards or other beneficiary cards.

Around six people, who are slum dwellers, homeless and belongs to the poor section of the society with the help of two law students, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi HC.

In the plea, they sought direction to NHRC, National Commission for protection of children rights, Delhi commission for protection of children rights, Delhi urban shelter improvement board, Delhi state legal service authority for an instant detailed survey of numbers of street dwellers, homeless, beggars across Delhi and direct the Government of NCT of Delhi to form a permanent committee to look after these people from time to time.

Petitioners also sought direction for arrangements by creating community kitchens and providing quality food three times a day in their hands and make proper mechanisms for distribution.

The plea states that the education of their children is at stake as they cannot go to school because for them food is more important than education. This breaches their fundamental right under section 21 A, the right to education.

The two law students, Shrikant Prasad and Vineeta Mahamana (petitioners) claimed that they have recently visited many places of Delhi including slums and roadside dwellers of Southeast Delhi, and found these people living in bad condition without food and shelter.

"These people were not aware of the law and rights provided to them. The Supreme Court of India in its earlier judgment had pulled Centre and State governments for not having a concrete policy regarding them," the petitioners said.

The PIL further stated, "Homeless children and street dwellers living a destitute life at various red-lights are compelled to beg due to non-availability of work during the pandemic. Due to unemployment, many are compelled to live on a footpath with their children who are also compelled to beg by compromising their health and safety. They are not beggars but helpless and homeless. This is the situation of whole Delhi."

"As per the report 1.77 million Indians are homeless and 40 per cent of them are even getting no lockdown relief," the plea stated.

"The problem is especially acute for homeless women who are malnourished and suffer from various other diseases, mental health issues and risky pregnancies. With hospitals overburdened with COVID-19, the issue of accessibility is likely to be worse now," the plea read.

The petition is scheduled to come up for a hearing on May 17.