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Supreme Court Blasts Centre For The Welfare Of Widows, Imposes Rs 1 Lakh Fine
sharda sahu 26 Apr 2017

Supreme Court Blasts Centre For The Welfare Of Widows, Imposes Rs 1 Lakh Fine

On Friday Supreme Court sharply rebuked the Centre over its functioning on taking steps to improve the condition of widows in the country.

The SC not only blasted the Centre vocally, but also imposed a Rs 1 lakh fine for failing to follow directions given by the apex court on the subject of improving the conditions of poor widows.

The Supreme Court also took offence to the government claiming courts are "trying to run the government".

"You (government) do not want to do it and when we say anything, you say that court is trying to run the government," a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

"You do not care about the widows of India. You file an affidavit and say you are not concerned with the widows of India. You have done nothing... This is complete helplessness. Government does not want to do anything," the bench also said.

Earlier the Supreme Court had asked the Centre call a meeting to consider suggestions that were put forth by the National Commission for Women (NCW). The apex court also directed that the meeting formulate directions aimed at improving the condition of widows in the country.

The government, in an hint put forward by a counsel representing the Ministry of Women and Child Development, had then told the court that a meeting was scheduled on April 12 and 13.

However, during Friday's hearing, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre on why the meeting was not convened.

"You had told us about April 12 and 13 but there was no meeting and now you are giving explanations. In spite of what was recorded, nothing has been done. You have not done anything," Justices Lokur and Gupta said, adding "we cannot do anything, they are so stubborn".

When the counsel sought time to come back with directions, the bench said, "we will grant you time subject to cost of Rs 1 lakh".

DECISION DELAYED

On previous hearing in this matter, the court had said the government and other stakeholders should sit together and come out with a list of "agreed directions" on improving widows' condition.The Supreme Court had then expressed hope that it would be able to pass those directions at the next hearing i.e. the one held yesterday.

The counsel for the ministry had told the court that it would be suitable "if agreed directions are formulated and issued, so that immediate steps are taken to improve the conditions of widows".

SC TAKES NOTE

The apex court had taken note of condition of widows after a petition was filed in 2007 portraying their pathetic condition in the welfare homes at the holy city of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

The apex court 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 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 apex 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 two holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan.

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