New Delhi: The Supreme court on Friday pulled up the National Commission for Women and its Uttar Pradesh counterpart for their apathy to the pitiable condition of Virandavan widows and asked the state government to provide adequate food and hygienic living environment for them.
A bench of justices DK Jain and Madan B Lokur directed the two commissions to file their affidavits within two weeks explaining as to what they have done or propose to do for the widows, living in "pathetic" condition in the holy city.
The bench also directed the state government to provide medical facilities for the widows.
It directed the Vrindavan chief medical officer to ensure that a team of doctors visits the widows` shelter at least twice a week.
Recording the statement of state government`s counsel, the bench said a committee of State Probationary Officer and Social Welfare Officer would ensure that proper food and drinking water are supplied to the widows` home.
The court passed the order on pleas seeking its direction to the Centre and the state government to provide shelter and other necessary facilities to the widows in the city who have been abandoned by their family members.
The court had earlier issued notices on the petitions highlighting the plight of widows who have been living in Vrindavan and begging at temples and then huddling together in hovels, which they call their homes.
The court had on May 9 appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on their socio-economic conditions.
The committee headed by chairman of Mathura District Legal Services Authority had earlier submitted its report saying the widows are "highly vulnerable" groups and are living in "pathetic" conditions.
The petitioner NGOs pointed out to the court that the
widows, who congregate for around seven to eight hours for Bhajans, get only Rs 18 a day.
The NGO had also told the court that a majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed in Vrindavan by the NCW have children who do not care for them.
In a report to the apex court, the statutory women`s body 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 and were being sexually exploited.
NCW`s second report to the court said 81 per cent of these women were illiterate.