SC Directs Centre To Ensure Proper Care For Senior Citizens Living Alone Amidst COVID-19
News Article covered by Niloy Subir Ghosh
This COVID 19 pandemic has affected people of all ages. There is uncertainty regarding the
education of the youth. The working class is facing the issues of job security and reduced
salary. The senior citizens have also been equally affected with them being the most vulnerable to this virus, and thus require extra assistance and protection. Those senior citizens residing alone are one of the most badly affected age group.
A petition was filed by former Rajya Sabha MP and Senior Advocate Dr. Ashwani Kumar
against The Union of India and Ors. With regard to the situation of senior citizens in this
pandemic. The petitioner through this petition has sought further directions with regard to
older people who need more care and protection in this pandemic of COVID 19. The petitioner has submitted that the older people have already been identified since most of them are getting pension from the States under the 3 different schemes.
The petitioner had further submitted that the older people, who are living alone, are worst
sufferers and they are not able to get medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods.
The petitioner also submitted that the caregivers were also not trained enough to serve the
senior citizens. The petitioner has also prayed for issuing appropriate direction for timely
payment of old-age pension to all elder persons who are in receipt of the pension. The
petitioner had also raised a grievance that the elderly people are not getting priority in the
Government hospital irrespective of their capacity to pay.
The petition was heard by the division bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R
Subhash Reddy. The order of the petition filed was decided on 4th August 2020.
In the order, the court has recognized the obligation of the Government in taking care and
protecting the elderly who live alone, by securing the availability of essential goods. The
court has also directed the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to ensure that
steps are taken to provide care to those senior citizens who are living alone during the
COVID-19 pandemic and further directed the Ministry to ensure that the old-age pension for
these senior citizens are disbursed in a timely manner.
The Court in the order has further directed that all senior citizens who are eligible for the
pension shall be paid regularly. The court also held that identified older people should be
provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective
States. The court also held that the government is obliged to take care of elderly people who
are living alone by ensuring that essential goods and services are provided to them. The Court thus directs, the states have to ensure that they respond promptly as and when the senior citizens living alone make such requests.
The court has also asked the Centre to ensure that all the safety precautions for COVID-19
are followed and that caregivers in old age homes be well equipped with masks, personal
protection equipment (PPE) kits, and sanitizers. An observation also comes from the Court
also held an observation pertaining to admission of elderly people in hospitals with the Bench
saying that elderly people must be given priority for being admitted to hospitals. However,
the same is an observation and not a direction from the Court. For the SC order, the prescribed order is attached at the end.