The Gauhati High Court on Friday expressed its dissatisfaction with the Assam government for keeping evicted people "like cattle" in temporary camps for prolonged periods.

The court, while maintaining it was "good" the government was clearing forested areas of illegal settlers, also stressed that advance plans should be in place for rehabilitation of the evicted people.

A division bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Mridul Kumar Kalita made these verbal observations while hearing a suo moto PIL taken up by the court regarding the plight of children living in temporary shelter homes.

Senior advocate Bhaskar Dev Konwar was appointed the amicus curiae by the court in the case, and the government side was represented by D Nath.

Going through the report submitted by Konwar after a site inspection on Thursday, Justice Mehta said, "The most unfortunate part is that all the people are from one community."

He asked the government counsel to submit a report of how many temporary shelters have been set up across the state pursuant to the government's eviction drives, how many evicted people were rehabilitated and the status of the others.

"How long can you keep people like cattle in temporary shelters built of tarpaulin?" Justice Mehta said.

"We can't be inhumane in these matters, this is inhumane of the highest order," he said, adding, the government counsel should also adopt a sensitive approach in the matter, as the PIL is not an adversarial litigation but deals with human misery.

Government advocate Nath, citing a report concerning the Doboka camp, said 405 families were evicted in the vicinity, of which 100 families have been resettled and land was being identified for the rest.

He said that 39 inmates, of which 15 were adults, were detected with water-borne diseases and provided treatment.

At this, the chief justice retorted by saying where will the people go after treatment, the "same hellhole?".

Konwar, submitting photographs of the camp before the court, claimed it resembled a "rathole" and that "village cowsheds were better".

Taking note of the report, the division bench in its order asked the government counsel to instruct the authorities concerned to take immediate remedial measures.

The court gave 10 days for filing the counter affidavit, listing the matter for May 8.

Cause Title- In Re- Plight Of Children In Temporary Shelter Homes v.The State Of Assam

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI Inputs