The Supreme Court has imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on the Centre for not coming out with the agreed directions to improve the condition of destitute widows and granted it four weeks to do so.
“You do not want to do it and when we say anything, you say that court is trying to run the government... 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”, a bench comprising of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.
The hearing pertained to a case wherein the apex court took note of situation 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.
SC 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
The court had earlier asked the Centre to convene a meeting to consider suggestions mooted by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and formulate directions to improve the condition of widows in the country.
The counsel for Ministry of Women and Child Development had intimated the court that a meeting was scheduled on April 12 and 13 to consider the suggestions of the NCW and experts.
During the hearing the bench asked the Centre's counsel why this meeting was not convened despite an assurance given to the court.
At the last date of hearing, the court had said the government and other stakeholders should sit together and come out with a list of agreed directions which may be passed.
The counsel for the ministry had told the court that it would be appropriate if agreed directions are formulated and issued, so that immediate steps are taken to improve the conditions of widows..
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.