Women's rights

Supreme Court rebukes Centre for neglecting destitute women in the country

‘You do not care about the widows of India,’ the apex court told the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The Supreme Court on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government of neglecting destitute widows in the country, PTI reported. The apex court rebuked the Centre for claiming that courts are trying to “run the government”. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the government did not follow its directives on the matter.

The Supreme Court ordered the government to pay Rs 1 lakh for not complying with its directions to help destitute widows within four weeks. “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 said.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development’s representative told the court that a meeting was scheduled on April 12 and 13 to discuss the National Commission for Women’s recommendations on the matter. The bench countered the statement by questioning why the planned meeting was not held.

The bench’s observations were based on a 2007 petition highlighting the condition of widows in welfare homes in Uttar Pradesh’s Vrindavan. It had referred to several reports which said the homes lacked acceptable sanitation, drinking water and power facilities.

The NCW had suggested imposing a liability on the widowed women’s children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Its report 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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