The Delhi High Court on Tuesday has said there is no clarity as to the exact number of the labourers stranded in Azadpur Mandi while directing SDM Azadpur Area to undertake an exercise to identify the number of labourers who are stranded in Azadpur Mandi and are in dire need of two square meals a day and/or shelter.
A two-Judge bench of Justice Hima Kohli & Justice Subramonium Prasad said, “a fresh affidavit shall be filed by the SDM, Model Town for this Court to satisfy itself that the number of meals mentioned in the affidavit filed by the respondent/GNCTD tallies with the actual number of labourers who are actually stranded and stationed in Azadpur Mandi”.
“There is no clarity as to the exact number of the labourers allegedly stranded in Azadpur Mandi. In our opinion, the SDM of the area ought to have undertaken an exercise and come up with clear figures. It is therefore deemed appropriate to direct the SDM of the area shall undertake an exercise to identify the number of labourers who are stranded in Azadpur Mandi and are in need of two square meals a day and/or shelter. The names and their numbers be shared with the Secretary, Delhi State Legal Services Authority of the area for the latter to verify the list,” said the Court.
The Court said that the exercise should be completed by SDM on or before 13.6.2020 and an affidavit shall be filed on or before 15.6.2020. Members of the petitioner/Association shall also assist the SDM of the area and help in collating the requisite data.
The Courts direction came on a public interest (PIL) filed by the Potato and Onion Masakhour Merchant Association to ensure that about 1,000 labourers stranded at Azadpur Mandi during the lockdown period are provided two square meals a day till normalcy is restored.
As per the previous order of the High Court, the SDM, Model Town, in an affidavit stated that there are two Hunger Relief Centres located within the Azadpur Mandi (Centre Nos.1245 and 1255) and 2 other Hunger Relief Centres are located within a radius of 150 meters, at Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya (Co-ed), Bharola Village and Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya (Co-ed), Sarai Peepal Thala. The four Hunger Relief Centres provide 1300 lunch packets and 1300 dinner packets per day to labourers and others in need.
The Court was informed that there is a DUSIB Shelter Home at Sarai Peepal Thala near Azadpur Mandi, where the stranded persons including the labourers can stay. Additionally, there are three temporary Shelter-homes established in three schools located at Model Town-III, Azadpur Colony and Dhaka Village.
The Court inquired from the Counsel Mr Anuj Aggarwal, appeared for Delhi Government as to how many persons can be accommodated in the DUSIB Shelter Home at Sarai Peepal Thala and the three Government Schools, referred to in affidavit. He stated that he has no instructions in this regard.
“We are of the opinion that the aforesaid information is very material as it is the stand of learned counsel for the petitioner even today, there are about 1000 labourers in the Azadpur Mandi who are shelterless,” the Court noted in its order.
The Counsel for the petitioner contested the claim made by the GNCTD that the number of stranded labourers in Azadpur Mandi is far below 1000, and submitted that the figure remains around 1000, despite a number of labourers having migrated from Delhi.
“There is no clarity as to the exact number of the labourers allegedly stranded in Azadpur Mandi. In our opinion, the SDM of the area ought to have undertaken an exercise and come up with clear figures,” directed the Court.
The Court will hear the matter next on June 16.
Read the order here;
-India Legal Bureau
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