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Sikkim High Court asks Sikkim govt to list out its policy for building old age homes

During the course of hearing, it is further that they are taking steps for the inauguration but due to Covid-19 it could not be done, however, it suffices to observe that the inauguration may be made by virtual mode but after completion of the construction that too in August 2020 itself, keeping it pending or idle is not justifiable. So the adequate step for inauguration be made having a meeting with higher officials as expeditiously as possible.

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The Sikkim High Court on Friday sought the response of the state government on its policies for the construction of old age homes while observing that it is the duty of the government to envision policies for the benefit of senior citizens based on the Central government’s directions. 

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai passed this order while hearing a suo motu action regarding establishment of old age homes in all districts of Sikkim. 

The Additional Advocate General filed a report on April 3 stating that for the constructions of old age homes at Mangan, North Sikkim, there are difficulties regarding pipelines and LT Line for which supplementary budget has been sought. 

“The Court is not satisfied by such progress, in particular, when the sanction of the old age homes of 2017-18 and now it is mid-2021. At the time of sanction, all the difficulties ought to be examined by the State Authorities, therefore, the stand as taken does not satisfy the requirement of progress in the matter of construction of old age homes at Mangan,” the Court said. 

The Court stated that the construction of old age homes at Kyoseong, West Sikkim, the progress of 20% has been shown wrongly and it is in fact 40% which would reflect the previous report filed by the state government showing the position as of October 20, 2020. Despite a lapse of 8 months, the progress has come to a standstill for want of funds.

The Additional Advocate General informed the Court that he will seek instructions from the Secretary, Finance Department and others in this regard. So far as the construction of an old age home at Boomtar, Namchi, South Sikkim is concerned, it is said that the construction has been completed. 

During the course of hearing, it is further that they are taking steps for the inauguration but due to Covid-19 it could not be done, however, it suffices to observe that the inauguration may be made by virtual mode but after completion of the construction that too in August 2020 itself, keeping it pending or idle is not justifiable. So the adequate step for inauguration be made having a meeting with higher officials as expeditiously as possible. 

“In the first affidavit filed in the case it is stated that for construction of old age homes the higher officials shall take step having coordination with the District Authorities but the said affidavit is of February 14, 2020. In terms of the statement as made before the Court, it is the duty of the officials of the department as well as the of the District Administration to indicate the progress of the construction of the old age homes and its operation which is missing even in the last report filed in April, 2020,” the Court said. 

The Court further said that, looking at the scope of this Public Interest Litigation, it is the duty of the State Government to produce the relevant policies of the State Government with the directives of the Central Government for the benefit of the Senior Citizens of their State. 

“At this stage, we further observe that the Assistant Solicitor General be noticed by the Registry for production of the policies of the Central Government for the benefit of the Senior Citizens as regarding the construction of the old age homes by the Center and the State. Therefore, Registry shall reflect the name of the Assistant Solicitor General in the cause-list”, the order said. The Court has fixed the next hearing on August 9.

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