Punjab, seven other states pulled up, fined by SC over ‘not bothering about welfare of widows’
It also slapped cost of Rs 25,000 each on Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab and Uttarakhand for giving “incomplete information” to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.Updated: May 02, 2018 19:58 IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday slapped fines on eight state governments, including Punjab, and pulled them up for “not bothering” about the welfare of widows and destitute women by not heeding to the Centre’s proposal for setting up expert committee to deal with the problem.
A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta also suggested that the Centre should consider framing “one proper and first class” composite scheme by merging a plethora of existing ones, which was accepted by the government. “If they (states) do not want to do it, they will not do this. If they are not bothered about women of their own state, then what should we do? There are issues raised about gender justice, but they are not bothered. They do not want to do anything,” the bench said.
The court imposed cost of Rs 50,000 each on Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Odisha, and directed them to deposit it within four weeks with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee for utilisation in issues related to juvenile justice. It also slapped cost of Rs 25,000 each on Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab and Uttarakhand for giving “incomplete information” to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
During the hearing, the court asked additional solicitor general (ASG) ANS Nadkarni, representing the ministry, about the issue of convergence of several schemes for destitute women and widows. “Instead of having so many schemes, why don’t you have one proper and first class scheme? Why are there so many schemes?” the bench asked the ASG. Nadkarni agreed with the issue raised by the bench and said there should be a single composite scheme.
The counsel appearing for National Commission for Women (NCW) told the bench that they would extend full support to the ministry on convergence of the schemes.
The bench also dealt with the issue related to temples across the country giving flowers offered by devotees to shelter homes for widows and destitute women for making of perfume, coloured powder or incense sticks to enable them earn a livelihood. The apex court was informed that only few states have responded on the issue and the ministry and NCW would take up the matter with other states.
The court posted the matter for hearing on July 31.