While hearing a case of Vrindavan widows, the apex court instructed all state governments and union territories to compile a list of active welfare scheme for the improvement of destitute women and widows in the country. It also directed the temples in Mathura and Vrindavan to donate all flowers offered to them to shelter homes for widows and destitute women.

A Supreme Court bench, comprising justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, asked the state government to send the details of these schemes via email to the ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission of Women (NCW).

“There is little or no doubt at all that widows in some parts of the country are socially deprived and to an extent of ostracization. Perhaps this is the reason why many of them choose to come to Vrindavan and other ashrams where, unfortunately, they are not treated with the dignity they deserve. This is evident from the article that caused this public interest litigation and the compilation of reports that this litigation has generated,” said the bench, Live Law reported.

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“It is to give voice these hapless widows that it became necessary for this Court to intervene as a part of its constitutional duty and for reasons of social justice to issue appropriate directions,” it added.

The Environment and Consumer Protection Foundation (ECPF) had filed a petition in the SC to tackle the depressing situation of widows of Vrindavan.

“It is to give voice these hapless widows that it became necessary for this court to intervene as a part of its constitutional duty and for reasons of social justice to issue appropriate directions,” – SC

The court has also instructed the National Commission for Women to gather all the schemes to formulate a a model scheme that it would implement for the rehabilitation of these women.

The court also learnt through Renuka Kumar, Principal Secretary of the Women Welfare Department of Government of Uttar Pradesh, that Vindavan temples have huge floral offerings made to them. Earlier, the municipal corporation used to dump them in river Yamuna or elsewhere as garbage. However, the department of women in Uttar Pradesh has started an initiative where they use these offerings to recycle them to make eco-friendly products like Sugandh essence, Sugandh jal, gulal, dhoop batti, agarbatti, etc. They do it with the help of the Floral and Fragrance Development Centre in Kannauj under the micro, small and medium enterprises ministry.

This led the court to order the Mathura municipal corporation to ensure that they collect the flower offerings and deposit them with shelter home premises of the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Kalyan Nigam. The court also instructed the municipal corporation to not dump the floral offerings anywhere else.

Picture credit- Lakshmi Gautam

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