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Lack of legislation "prevents" Bombay High Court to order relief to 13-day-old homeless infant in Mumbai

By Our Representative
The Bombay High Court has reportedly regretted that it cannot provide any relief to a 13-days-old girl child, resident of a slum at Yari Road, saying it is “helpless”. The apex body of many of India’s mass organizations, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), in a statement said, the court “cited its limitation in its jurisdiction to provide relief to the homeless.”
The matter relates to a slum named Kavthekhadi at Yari road, Mumbai, demolished on March 22, 2016. The youngest member among those evicted was a five-days-old girl child. Evicted residents of the slum approached the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) for help.
“The GBGBA, with the help of Advocate Mathew J Nedumpara, took the matter to the Court. A writ petition was filed in the name of the five-days-old girl child through her mother. The child had become 13-days old at the time of filing of the petition”, NAPM says.
An informal settlement around mangrove areas on the land owned by the revenue department of Maharashtra government, the NAPM said, the court opined that “human habitation in such areas would be dangerous to the persons living there as well as to the environment.”
At the same time the court has acknowledged the plight of the now homeless petitioner and other homeless persons like her. NAPM, said, “The court, while expressing its helplessness to provide any relief to the petitioner said, ‘to extend to such persons any benefit or any assistance, there has to be a legislation or law in the field’.”
NAPM quoted the court as saying that “It is one thing to be sympathetic and consider such pleas, as are raised by Mr Nedumpara, on a humanitarian basis. It is quite another to grant any relief based on them and on the touchstone of law.”
“Eventually, we render justice in accordance with law and there are, therefore, restraints and limits on our jurisdiction also”, the court was further quoted as saying. It also asked the state to “take into consideration the plight of the homeless and provide them night shelter and other welfare schemes.”
Said NAPM, “At present there are only seven night shelters in the whole of the city of Mumbai which came into existence long back and not with enough capacity. As per the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) run by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, there must be one night shelter per one lakh population.”
“As per this, at least 125 night shelters are required in Mumbai in accordance with 2011 census”, it added.
“As far as the central housing scheme the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is concerned, it comes under ‘Housing For All by 2022’, but there has been no progress in implement it”, the NAPM said.
Pointing out that slum settlements have “no water facility giving way to mafias to regulate water supply”, NAPM, whose statement has been prepared by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, said. 
“The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) is not complying with the order of the Bombay High Court which directed the corporation to provide water to all the colonies whether authorized or unauthorized. Similarly, there is either no provision or least provision of toilets in these settlements”, it added.

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