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Delhi HC to govt: Demarcate 2 exclusive shelter homes for pregnant women in 7 days

Date : 13/01/2011

New Delhi: 13/1/2011

Underscoring the significant life of a child as forming the “vertebra of a spine of the nation” and the role of the mother in “building the nation”, the Delhi High Court has issued a landmark order with far reaching implications on the care and protection of poor pregnant and lactating women in India.
Following submissions from Human Rights Law Network on behalf of the Amicus Curiae concerning the inadequate reliefs proposed by the Government to address the crisis faced by destitute pregnant and lactating women, the Honorable Court pronounced:

“It does not require solomons wisdom to say that the [Government’s] affidavit nowhere really focuses on the problem that has crept up. . .

We just cannot become the silent spectators waiting for the Government to move like a tortoise and allow the destitute pregnant women and lactating women to die on the streets of Delhi, may be after giving birth to a child or may be along with the child. Such a situation
cannot be countenanced and is not possible to visualize in the backdrop of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is expected of the State and the persons who are in-charge of its departments to have a vision. It has been said long back that the personalities who have
vision can always visualize the invisibility. To elaborate: it conveys the situation which exists and are likely to eloquently get edificed, must be pursued by the persons who are in the helm of administration.
In view of the aforesaid, we command the Government of NCT of Delhi to file a proper and comprehensive affidavit within a period of four weeks and pending that we direct the Government of NCT of Delhi to demarcate or hire or create at least two shelter centres meant for destitute pregnant women and lactating women so that proper care can be taken to see that no destitute woman is compelled to give birth to a child on the footpath. We are sure, no apathy shall be shown in this regard as any kind of recalcitratant, propensity or proclivity in this regard would be violative of the concept of Rule of Law.”

The public interest litigation was initiated suo motu by the Delhi High Court following a report dated 29th August, 2010 published in The Hindustan Times about one Laxmi, a destitute woman who breathed her last on a busy street in Shankar Market area of central Delhi after giving birth to a baby girl.

For more information on the case or about our work please contact:

Adv. Jayshree Satpute
Human Rights Law Network
Sukti Dhital, Esq.
Human Rights Law Network, Reproductive Rights Unit

January 12 Interim Order DHC

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