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This article is written by Varchaswa Dubey, from JECRC University, Jaipur. This article reflects the exhaustive work concerning public administration regarding the rights of homeless people.

Introduction 

The public administration is considered to look after the administration of the country by practising the powers they have incorporated from the position they hold. Public administration withholds an important role in the development of society since its primary duty and responsibility is to ensure the enforcement of laws and policies enacted by the legislature or other competent authority. Apart from that, they also look after the health and safety of the community they are assigned to serve. 

One such duty and responsibility of public administration is the development of the homeless people in the society, who not only lack shelter, but also food and clothes, which are considered as the most essential elements of life. 

The problem of homelessness is not only a problem that pertains in India but throughout the world, which has led to the violation of every human right possible, primarily those enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to a report of the 2011 census, 17,73,040 people are homeless in India, out of which 10,46,871 were males, 7,26,169 females, and 2,70,605 were children, with the highest being in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. 

Public administration 

Public administration is a field in which leaders serve communities to advance the common good and effect positive change. Public administration professionals are equipped with skills to manage at all levels of government (local, state, and federal) as well as nonprofit organizations. Public administration serves as the basis of any government, intending to implement the policies of the government without which no government can prosper.

Role of public administration 

The role of public administration is:

Implementing public policies

The public administration enforces the public policy enacted by the legislature or other policymaking authorities for the betterment of the public at large.

Implementation of laws

Public administration implements the law and order to maintain the decorum of society.

Implementing other policies 

Policies other than those concerned with law and order, like economic policies, security policies, regional, state, and national policies, environmental policies, education policies, employment policies, healthcare policies, etc., are implemented by the public administration of a country.

Methods to achieve public administration strategies

Public administration needs to achieve its desired strategies. Certain methods to achieve this strategy are: 

Specific method

It refers to the determination and setting of a goal that is to be achieved by the public administration, where the goal is set clearly.

Measurable method

Public administration must take measures to achieve the desired goal. For example, if they need to implement a public policy, they must take measures to prevent the criticism from attacking the mainstream policy.

Attainable method

The aim of public administration shall be ambitious to achieve the desired implementation of policy, on the other hand, the policy should also be attainable and not too difficult to achieve. 

Realistic method

 The policy which is desired by the public administration must be realistic and not fanciful.

Time-bound 

The administration must achieve the desired goal within a specific period, and such goal must be achieved within the decided period to make the policy efficient. 

The rights of homeless people 

Homelessness is a profound assault on dignity, social inclusion, and the right to life. It is a prima facie violation of the right to housing and violates several other human rights in addition to the right to life, including non-discrimination, health, water and sanitation, security of the person, and freedom from cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment.

Homeless people are equally entitled to all the fundamental rights which are available to those who reside in a shelter. The constitutional rights of homeless people are: 

  • Article 21: The homeless are entitled to all the rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India. The Karnataka High Court recently considered the failure of the State to provide basic shelter to the urban homeless, which violates the right to life under Article 21 of the constitution of India. 
  • Article 14: It is the right concerned with the equality before the law and that state shall not deny to any person the equal protection of the law, and one such factor is to shelter the homeless.
  • Article 19: The homeless people are also entitled to the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, however, they lack shelter and cannot reside anywhere,
  • Article 38: It is concerned with the welfare of the people by state.
  • Article 39: It is concerned with the duty of the state towards its citizens, however, this and the abovementioned right is present in Part IV of the Constitution, and therefore, non-enforceable in any court of law.

The Indian scenario 

The 2011 census report clearly states the high number of homeless people in India. The homeless are victims of negligence by the local, state and central government, with no shelter. They sleep on the footpaths or other similar places under the open sky. In addition, hunger, exposure to cruel weather conditions, unclaimed corpses, no medical assistance, etc, has not only caused derogatory living conditions to the homeless but deaths of thousands every year. 

Reasons for homelessness 

Numerous factors are associated with the homelessness of the poor like: 

Lack of affordable housing

The rates of property and material required to build a house are very expensive and unaffordable for the poor, which has forced them to stay homeless instead of possessing a house.

Unemployment

The most vital factor which is associated with homelessness is the unemployment rate of the country, due to which the homeless people lack the required financial resources.

Physical or mental illness

Physical and mental impairments have led to the homeless people being unemployed and eventually homeless, and the main contributor to this factor is the poor medical aid they lack from the government.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence on women is the most significant factor why most homeless women reside on the streets. The violence they faced from their husband, or other family members has forced them to quit their house. 

The role of the Indian judiciary

The Supreme Court of India, in a writ petition, directed the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to constitute a committee to initiate physical verification of the available shelters for urban homeless in each State or Union territory. The committee shall also verify whether the shelters comply with the operational guidelines for the Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM). The committee shall inquire into the reasons for the slow progress in the setting up of shelter homes by the States/UTs. The committee shall further inquire about the non-utilization and/or diversion/misutilization of the funds allocated for the scheme for providing shelters to the urban homeless. The committee shall further issue suitable recommendations to the State Governments to ensure that at least temporary shelters are provided for the homeless in the urban areas to protect them during the winter season. 

The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Dr.Ashwani Kumar v. Union Of India And Ors, (2018) held that – “ the right to life includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessities of life such as adequate nutrition, clothing shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expressing oneself in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human beings”.

The role of the legislature

The legislature plays the most significant role in the development of the laws since the country is only governed by the laws which are enacted for the welfare of the people. One such proposed enactment is the Homeless Pavement Dwellers (Welfare) Bill, 2011, which defines pavement dwellers as – “the persons living on the pavement of roads or footpaths, under the bridges, flyovers, bus stops, railway stations or yards, in parks or under the open sky in any public place in the metros and urban areas”. The Bill also places a responsibility on the government to formulate a national welfare policy for the poor homeless pavement dwellers for being uniformly implemented across the country by the appropriate governments. 

The Homeless Pavement Dwellers (Welfare) Bill, 2014, and the Homeless Pavement Dwellers (Welfare) Bill, 2016 were also introduced in the Parliament. However, none of the proposed bills could be converted into legislation.

Later, the Persons in Destitution (Protection, Care and Rehabilitation) Model Bill, 2016 was drafted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which refers to ‘Persons in Destitution’ as homeless persons, persons in begins, persons with physical and mental disabilities, to those persons who are above 18 years of age and in state of poverty arising from economic or social deprivation and sustained unemployment. 

Other housing policies and programs 

  • The National Housing Policy, 1988: The first national housing policy concerning housing was established in the year 1988 to eradicate homelessness and improve their housing conditions, and provide them with basic services and amenities. 
  • The National Housing Policy, 1994: Empowered with the 1991 changes in the country, the 1994 policy aimed at the overall development of rural people and urban poor. 
  • 8th Five Year Plan: The plan placed a duty on the government to develop an environment to remove hindrances in the housing activities, increase the supply of housing and basic services, standardize and up-gradation housing, and address the need of the homeless people with the main objective of ‘shelter for all’.
  • National Housing Policy, 1998: The policy aimed at providing quality and cost-effective housing and shelter options, ensuring that all such houses are easily accessible, and providing basic sanitation and water facilities. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs also gave guidelines in this regard. 
  • The National Slum Development Programme of 1996: Apart from aiming at infrastructure, education, health care, the program also had a component of shelter up-gradation or construction of new houses.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of 2005: The policy aimed at developing basic services for the poor and housing development program for the development of slums by providing shelters, basic services, and other amenities to provide utilities to the poor. 

National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy of 2007

A policy enacted by the Government of India, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. 

Aim of the policy 

  • Providing housing and basic services for the poor and promoting balanced urban-rural planning by following the regional planning approach, 
  • Accelerating the pace of development of housing and related infrastructure, 
  • Emphasizing improving the affordability of the vulnerable and economically weaker sections of society, 
  • Facilitating accessibility to serviced land and housing with a focus on economically weaker sections and low-income group categories, etc. 

The United Nations and homelessness

The United Nations referred to homelessness as a global problem that affects people with diverse economic, social, and cultural backgrounds, in both developed and developing nations in its report – “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness”. The UN considered homelessness is not only a loss of physical housing, but is also a loss of family, community, and a sense of belonging.

Suggestions to prevent homelessness

  • Making available housing policies to prevent homelessness and support those people who are facing homelessness, 
  • Prevention of forced eviction,
  • Providing adequate shelter and services to the homeless people, 
  • Promotion of affordable housing. 

Conclusion 

People who are homeless are victims of numerous attacks and to protect the rights of these individuals, the administration must work effectively and in a time-bound manner, or else society will continue to witness more homeless people around it. The administration is the most ideal authority which can eradicate homelessness because it has the authority and power to enact better policies that will eliminate homelessness only if the administration drafts a policy that is not similar to the older policies since the older policies couldn’t achieve the desired objective. 

It is worth underscoring that most of the shelters and other similar places which give place to the homeless people to reside temporarily are either being operated by NGOs or religious bodies and instead of the government which has primary responsibility for the welfare and development of its people. The government has certain policies like providing temporary shelter during winters at very low rates however, there are not many temporary shelters during the rainy and summer season. Therefore, the administration must draft a permanent policy to eradicate the highlighted issue and until such policy achieves its objective, the homeless people must be given shelter at temporary camps or other places. 

References 


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