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Delhi High Court at Delhi Issues Order to Government National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ors to provide Humane Living Conditions at New Delhi Family Shelter

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4th February, 2013, New Delhi –  The High Court of Delhi issued an order mandating the respondents in individual petition Priya Kale vs. Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ors. (W.P. (C) 641 of 2013) to immediately implement the petitioner’s interim prayers for three meals per day, heaters and geysers to withstand Delhi winters, and medical care for pregnant women living at the Motia Khan family shelter. Priya Kale, petitioner, lost her two-month old daughter on 6th January as a result of the poor living conditions and inadequate nutrition at Motia Khan. The Hon’ble Court relied on orders issued in PUCL vs. Union of India (W.P. (C) 196 of 2001), and suo moto W.P. (C) 5913 of 2010, both of which touch upon New Delhi’s homeless population, especially homeless children and pregnant and lactating women. This is an important and necessary development for Priya Kale, who has lived at Motia Khan for the last three years with her husband, two young sons, and late daughter. Residents at Motia Khan live in dirty, open spaces without privacy, adequate bathroom facilities or a communal kitchen. There are no female showering areas so that women are forced to shower in the men’s bathroom fully clothed. The shelter is riddled with cockroaches, mice, and stray dogs that share the resident’s living space. Substantial improvements are imperative if New Delhi is to meet the needs of its homeless population. Pryia Kale’s grim reality illustrates fundamental rights violations faced by marginalized homeless women in Delhi. According to the Indo-Global Social Service Society, New Delhi’s public parks, pavements, flyovers, and railway stations are currently home to over 150,000 people.

Mrs. Priya Kale, twenty-five years old, gave birth to her daughter, Preeti, on 25 October 2012. She did not deliver at a hospital, but instead delivered in an unsanitary public place without privacy or medical supervision. On 6th January 2013, Preeti, only two months old, passed away. On 15th January, the Times of India reported on Priya’s current status and Preeti’s death. The article explained that Priya was “inconsolable[,] grief stricken.” When asked whether Preeti had showed any signs of illness, Priya is quoted as saying, "Pata nahin kya hua. Waise toh theek thi magar jab Shanivaar subah achanak dekha toh woh khatam hoi gayi (I do not know what happened. She was fine but on Saturday… in the morning I found her dead)."

The Hon’ble Court at Delhi granted petitioner’s interim prayers and ordered the Government of NCT of Delhi to submit a status report on the living conditions at Motia Khan within three weeks. The matter is listed for 12th March 2013.

As of 4th February 2013, Respondents have failed to provide Motia Khan residents with three meals per day as per the Hon’ble Court’s order.

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is a collective of lawyers and social activists dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights in India and the sub-continent. Visit hrln.org to learn more.

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For further information, contact:

Karla Torres
Reproductive Rights Unit
Email: karla.torres@hrln.org
Phone: 08130236848

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