SC grants time to govt to file affidavit on destitute widows

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today granted six weeks to the government to file a detailed affidavit stating the steps taken by it for the welfare of ostracised destitute widows.

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur also asked the Centre to inform whether state women’s commissions were functional in various states as per the statute to look into the problems of the widows.

Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, informed the bench that three states — Delhi, Sikkim and Meghalaya — have responded to the agreed action plan to improve the situation of destitute widows in the country while response from other states was awaited.

The direction came after the law officer sought time to file a comprehensive affidavit stating in detail the steps taken by the government for the welfare of the widows.

“Give us some more time. We have received response from three states but communication from other states is awaited.

We have written to them. We will put on record all the requisite details,” he said.

The apex court also directed the National Legal Services Authority to file a status report on the issue before December 6, the next date of hearing.

On August 11, the top court had constituted a 6-member committee to study reports furnished in the apex court about the condition of widows and come up with a common working plan by November 30 this year.

The committee consists of Suneeta Dhar of NGO Jagori, Meera Khanna of Guild for Service, activist and lawyer Abha Singhal, advocate Aparajita Singh and a nominee each from NGOs HelpAge India and Sulabh International.

The apex court had asked the National Commission for Women to assist in providing working space to the committee and said that adequate remuneration with an honorarium to be given to the panel members would be decided later.

The apex court had taken note of the “pathetic” condition of widows after a petition was filed in 2007 highlighting how they lived in welfare homes in Vrindavan.

It had referred to various reports filed by the National Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority and National Commission for Women 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.