J&K floods: Inadequate relief impinges upon human rights

New Delhi, Sep 18: The Supreme Court on Thursday voiced concern over the deficiency in supply of essential commodities and services in the flood-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was "impinging upon the human rights and fundamental rights of the people" and sought urgent steps to prevent outbreak of epidemic.

"Our major concern is adequate supply of food, drinking water, medicines, avaibility of doctors, para-medical staffs and blanket. Lack of supply of these items impinge upon the human rights and are in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India," a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said.

The apex court also expressed its concern over the "inadequate sanitation and hygiene facility" in the flood affected areas which is "an invitation to epidemic and deserves to be tackled urgently".

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, said that natural disaster like this has drawn the apex court's attention as a large section of people have been affected and their fundamental rights under Article 21 to live with dignity have been "jeopardised" due to lack of adequate supplies and services.

"This is a matter where right of large number of people is involved and we are engaging ourselves because Right to Life, Right to food, Right to medicine, Right to shelter and Right to live with dignity of people have been prejudiced.

"We are concerned as these are the matters of Human Rights under Article 21 which are affected. This matter pertains to protection of fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution about the right to life, right to food, clothing and shelter which requires protection," the bench observed.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on September 24 asked the J-K Government to place before it the steps taken upto September 23 and took on record Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi's statement that "Union Health Secretary shall discuss with his counterparts in states for making available doctors, para-medical staff, medicines in the state at the earliest." 


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