A roadmap for improving the condition of destitute widows in different parts of the country has been prepared, the Centre today told the Supreme Court after it raised concern over the pathetic condition of the shelter homes for them. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was informed by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that they have furnished the agreed directions as sought by the court, in which they have also given a roadmap to deal with the issue. However, the bench observed, “All that you (Centre) are saying is that you are doing a very good job.”
The solicitor general quickly responded by saying that the Centre does not want “a pat on their back” as it has complied with the apex court’s direction.
The court fixed the matter for hearing next week. The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to convene a meeting to consider the suggestions mooted by National Commission for Women (NCW) and formulate directions to improve the condition of destitute widows.
It had said that the government and other stakeholders should sit together and come out with a list of “agreed directions”, which may be passed by the court. The apex court had taken note of the pathetic situation faced by the widows after a petition was filed in 2007 portraying their condition in the welfare homes at the holy city of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. It had earlier referred to various reports filed by the National Legal Services Authority, the District Legal Services Authority and the NCW on the condition of shelter homes for widows in Vrindavan.
One of the reports had said that there was a lack of proper toilets and bathrooms in the shelter homes, besides poor water and electricity facilities. The court was hearing the pleas seeking directions to the Centre and the state government to provide shelter and other necessary facilities to the widows in Vrindavan who have been abandoned by their family members. The apex court had also appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on their socio-economic conditions. A majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed earlier in Vrindavan by the NCW have children who do not care for them. In a report filed in the court, the statutory women’s body had recommended fixing of liability on the children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. It had said an estimated 5,000-10,000 widows were living like beggars in ashrams dotting the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan.