New Delhi: On the Pension Schemes Supreme Court said that the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) which deals with pensions for elderly and other issues, was “ prima facie” a good scheme but there were “ huge gaps” in its implementation which needed to be filled.
From the bench Justices, Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta have mentioned that the Centre must have a machinery to implement the scheme so that it could be known as to which authorities were doing their job properly.
The bench also noted as the Centre and said “ It cannot go beyond giving Rs 200 per month as pension to elderly persons at this point.
The bench observed When Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, Who was appearing for the Centre, referred to NSAP “You have a scheme. Prima facie it is a good scheme. It has to be implemented and for that, you have to a machinery,”
The statement mentioned by ASG to the court that NSAP comprises of Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme, Indira Gandhi Disability Pension Scheme, National Family Benefit Scheme and Annapurna scheme.
She further added that NSAP has a budget of around Rs 9,975 crore in 2018-19 and the government has allocated funds for pension covering around three crore elderly persons under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme.
Justice Lokur mentioned “All this is fine on paper. In the case of widows in Vrindavan, I do not think any one of them has been given any money. You have no idea how many widows are there in Vrindavan and in Jagannath Puri. You read our judgements (in widows matter) and you will get to know”
Ashwini Kumar Former Union Minister and Senior advocate has filed a plea with public interest litigation (PIL) concerning old age persons, has told to bench that number of senior citizens have increased from 10.38 crore as per 2011 census. The senior advocate also said that the compelling facts which have arisen in the matter were not controverted by the Centre and they should rather shock the government.
Mr. Kumar has revealed while argued that there were instances of delay of sound six months even in paying the meagre pension of Rs 200 per month to the elderly. He further added “ The amount of pension should be at least Rs 3,000 per month”
Throughout the arguments, the senior advocate to court “ right to live with dignity was a pinnacle and the centre and the states must ensure this for the elderly. He continues “ test of good governance is that are the people satisfied. These schemes are good but they are not implemented. Please intervene in this”
However, the bench said “ Our intervention could be of two kinds. We can say there are schemes and you implement it. The second thing is passing a meaningful order. There appears to be a gap. We have to fill up that gap. The endeavour today is to find out and fill the gap. It appears there is a huge gap.”
In Mr. Kumar plea it said that there were aged people in large number, most of whom were living in poverty, without any roof over their heads or proper clothes, food and budgetary allocation for their welfare was also paltry.