HC Directs Himachal Government to Establish Separate Homes for Disabled, Mentally-Challenged

SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh High Court today issued mandatory directions to the state government to establish separate homes for adult disabled shelterless and destitute persons and also for mentally challenged people within a year.

Taking cognisance of a letter written by Ajay Srivastav, chairman of NGO Umang Foundation, describing the pathetic state of inmates at old age and destitute homes, a division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Tarlok Singh Chauhan treated it as a petition and also ordered release of old age pension and Disability Relief Allowance (DRA) to all the inmates, irrespective of their nationality and awarded cost of Rs 1 lakh to the foundation, to be used only for the welfare of the destitute and disabled persons lodge in shelter homes.

The court rejected the contention of the respondent government that only bona fide Himachalis were entitled to pension and DRA and held that “all the inmates of the old age home belong to one group and they cannot be segregated only on the basis of their domicile or citizenship”.

The court further directed the Principal Secretary (Social Justice and Empowerment) to release adequate funds for the construction of a separate home for adult disabled shelterless and destitute persons and for construction of a separate home for mentally challenged males and females within eight weeks.

The court directed Director Welfare to visit the old age homes at Basantpur (Shimla), Dari (Dharamshala), Bhangrotu (Mandi) and Alleo, New Manali (Kullu) every month to ascertain whether the basic amenities are being provided to the inmates lodged therein, if not, the same be made available within two weeks after visiting the homes.

The bench also directed the Chief Secretary to issue necessary directions to the HP Civil Supply Corporation to provide adequate rations for all the inmates of old age homes and instructed the police to constitute a special team headed by a officer not below the rank of SP to trace the relations of the inmates of old age homes.