Homeless Persons Should Also Work for the Country; State Cannot Provide Everything: Bombay High Court

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The petition is an invitation to the people to not work. The Bombay High Court disposed of a PIL and held that homeless persons and the poor have to work for the country and everything cannot be provided by the State.

Facts of the Case

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Brijesh Arya, founder president of an NGO called Pehchan, on 11th June 2021, seeking directions to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to provide nutritious meals thrice-a-day, potable water, shelter, sanitary napkins for women and adolescent girls and clean public toilets for homeless persons, beggars and poor people in the city. The intention of the petitioner was to provide relief to the homeless and poor people.

Arguments by the Parties

In reply to the question asked by the High Court on 16th June 2021, regarding the building of shelter homes in every ward by the civic authority, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation submitted a document containing information regarding the distribution of food packets, distribution of sanitary napkins to women, and various other projects that were being undertaken for the welfare of the homeless and the poor. It was stated by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation that the distribution and projects were undertaken by the civic authorities with the help of NGO’s. Furthermore, it was stated that the State Government had also taken steps to provide meals to the homeless during the pandemic.

Observations of Bombay High Court

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A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni accepted the submissions of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and stated that no further directions were required to augment the distribution undertaken by the civic authorities.

The High Court stated that “the homeless persons should also work for the country. There is employment and livelihood provided for them under various government schemes. Everyone is working. Everything cannot be provided by the State.” Additionally, directing towards the petitioner, the Court stated that “such petitions were merely increasing the population of this section (homeless persons) of the society.” According to the Court, granting all the reliefs sought under the PIL would be equivalent to an “invitation to people not to work.

Furthermore, it was also observed by the Court that the petition lacked details regarding who is a homeless person, the population of homeless persons in the city and facilities that ought to be provided to them.

Court’s Decision

The Bombay High Court was of the opinion that the State and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have taken appropriate steps for the homeless persons and that no additional direction was required to be given and the PIL petition was disposed of. However, in its order, the Court notes that presently a minimum amount was charged for the usage of public toilets. Hence, the Court directed the State Government to consider the usage of public toilets by the homeless persons free of charge.

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