The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure that several states and union territories have not filed affidavits on a plea regarding old age homes in India and said it was “quite obvious” that the authorities were not concerned about the aged.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was informed that 23 states and union territories (UTs) have filed their affidavits, while 11 others have not furnished the details yet.
The apex court was unhappy that neither were affidavits filed by 11 states and UTs, nor were the advocates, appearing for states like Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and UTs of Daman and Diu and Lakshdeep, present before it during the hearing.
“It is quite obvious that these states/UTs are not concerned about old age persons. That is why, neither affidavits have been filed, nor is anyone present on their behalf,” the bench said.
It granted “last opportunity” to the defaulting states, which also include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana, to file their affidavits within three weeks.
The apex court had in September last year sought replies from the states and UTs regarding the status of old age homes in every district on a plea filed by former union minister and senior advocate Ashwini Kumar for protection of rights of senior citizens.
During the hearing today, Kumar told the bench that he would compile the information from the affidavits which would be filed by the states and UTs and place them on record.
The bench said it would deal with the suggestions “issue-wise” since several states and UTs might give common suggestions.
Referring to a report filed by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in November 2016, it said NALSA (Legal Services to Senior Citizens) Scheme, 2016 should be implemented at the earliest, and if there was a need for any modification, the authorities could look into them and make necessary changes.
The bench posted the matter for hearing on March 22.
During the hearing earlier, Kumar, who was also the Law Minister during the erstwhile UPA government, had said the Centre has said it was giving Rs 200 as old age pension which was “not sufficient” as inflation was rising.
Meanwhile, the Centre had told the apex court that it was coming up with new policy for senior citizens and that the pension amount varied from state to state.
Kumar, in his PIL, had said there was a large number of aged people which has been increasing, with most of them living in poverty, without any roof over their heads or proper clothes and food. The budgetary allocation for their welfare was also paltry.
He had referred to a report of the parliamentary standing committee dealing with the demand for grants for 2015-16, saying the amount allocated at the budget estimate stage was Rs 50 crore in 2014-15 which was cut down to Rs 25 crore at the revised estimate stage and only Rs 10.45 crore was actually utilised.
The petitioner has sought that adequate number of old age homes be established in the country and direction be given to maintain and operate such homes with adequate standards to enable the elderly live their life with dignity and in accordance with section 19 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.