Apex court asks NCW for survey of abandoned widows in Vrindavan

November 14th, 2008 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday asked the National Commission for Women (NCW) to carry out a survey of the thousands of abandoned widows living in destitution in the holy city of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. The court said the survey should include their age profiles, financial status, family background and the state they had come from. The apex court bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam directed the Uttar Pradesh government and the district collector of Mathura to extend full cooperation to the commission in carrying out the survey. The commission has been asked to submit its report within three months.

Appearing for the petitioner, Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation (ECPF), counsel Ravinder Bana told the court that there were 20,000-odd widows living in Vrindavan and there was no one to look after them. Bana said the Constitution of India provides every citizen a right to live with dignity.

However, the counsel for the Uttar Pradesh government, Shoba Dixit, contested the numbers and said there were around 3,000 widows in the holy city.

Dixit said there were not enough funds with the state government to look after so many widows who had come to Vrindavan from other states. She said there should be a survey of the widows to profile their background.

At one point, Justice P. Sathasivam told the state government counsel that if these widows were living in destituion then it was the duty of the state to look after them. The court declined the plea of the petitioner that the All India Widow Welfare Association (AIWWA) - a voluntary organisation - be made a party in the case to assist the court.

However, the court said that it would rather count on the NCW than the AIWWA to know the actual status of widows in Vrindavan.

The court also declined to make the NCW chairperson a party to the case and said the NCW be asked to carry out a survey through its secretary.

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