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SC glance on senior citizens

New Delhi, July 26: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on a petition that pointed to the plight of senior citizens stemming from retirement blues and poor healthcare.

The petition sought the implementation of the National Policy on Older Persons and asked the governments to reply on the action taken so far to help the elderly, who are often neglected.

A division bench of Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and D.M. Dharmadhikari issued the notices on the petition filed by J.S. Bawa after the retired brigadier’s counsel, S. Muralidhar, drew the court’s attention to the “appalling conditions” of elderly persons living in the country.

Bawa, who runs a newsmagazine — Age Speak — for the elderly but cannot move out of his residential premises in Delhi, had written a letter to the Supreme Court on the plight of the aged.

Muralidhar filed an elaborate petition after the apex court wanted Bawa’s letter to be treated as one.

The petition said the governments should submit to the court a time-bound action plan to implement various recommendations under the national policy formulated in 1999 by the ministry of social justice and empowerment.

Under the policy, Bawa’s petition said, all governments should constitute a special grievance redress cell for the aged in each of the departments of social justice and empowerment, personnel and public grievance.

The retired brigadier’s petition also sought special insurance cover for the aged and wanted a court directive to the governments to draw up specific schemes which would ensure the availability of medical services round the clock at affordable rates and reachable places.

The petitioner said the policy had itself pointed out that in another 30 years, India would have a population of about 200 million people over 60 which would increase to over 325 million by 2050.

Muralidhar said the case would slowly be expanded to encompass the whole of India and, subsequently, notices would be issued to all states and Union territories.

He said if the “central government is able to indicate an action plan” in its reply, “then, that would involve all the state governments and Union territories”.

“It is a social welfare measure which is in the concurrent list of the Constitution. (A) national policy is drawn up in consultation with the state governments.

“So, all states and Union territories would come under the sweep and ambit of the petition,” Bawa’s counsel added.

The matter would come up for further hearings after four weeks.

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