The Supreme Court on Friday expressed shock at the inhuman disposal of the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, by chopping them into pieces on the plea of lack of money for proper cremation.
A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur directed the Uttar Pradesh government to at least ensure that proper last rites were performed to ‘Vrindavan widows’ as per their religion.
“The Chief Medical Officer of the civil hospital [Mathura] is directed to ensure that the last rites of the deceased in the shelter homes are performed as per their religion.”
Senior counsel L. Nageswar Rao, appearing for the National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa), which had filed a public interest litigation petition on the pathetic conditions of the widows, told the court: “After death, they could not be cremated for lack of funds. The widows who die are cut into pieces and put in gunny bags and then disposed of.”
The Bench also gave directions for providing Vrindavan widows immediate relief, including supply of proper food, mandatory visits by a team of doctors from the Mathura civil hospital twice a week and ensuring basic sanitation in the shelter homes.
The court pulled up the National Commission for Women and the Uttar Pradesh State Women’s Commission for “doing nothing” for the destitute women except preparing some reports about their pathetic conditions.
Centre should play proactive role
It wanted the Centre to play a proactive role in the matter. “Now at least channels of communications between the Centre and U.P. are open, which were jammed [earlier during the Mayawati regime],” the Bench observed in a lighter vein.
The Environmental and Consumer Protection Foundation, an NGO, also filed a PIL petition for providing basic minimum facilities to the destitute women.
The Bench asked the Nalsa counsel to contact the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Sulabh International, an NGO, which had set up public toilets all over the country, to find out whether they could come forward to help the 1,790-odd widows living in deplorable conditions in the four government shelters at Vrindavan.