Care of elderly during COVID-19 pandemic: Supreme Court grants 4 weeks to states to file affidavits

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The Supreme Court on Monday (September 7) directed all the states to file a detailed affidavit, specifying the details and the kind of steps taken by them, in connection with a petition seeking adequate facilities for the elderly people amid the COVID-19 infection tally crossing 42 lakh with 1,016 deaths in last 24 hours.

The apex court also granted another four weeks’ time to those states which have so far not filed affidavits to submit their responses. The matter came up for hearing before the top court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan which had on August 4 directed that all eligible old age persons should be regularly paid pension and states should provide them necessary medicines, masks, sanitisers, and other essential goods in wake of the pandemic.

The bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, was hearing a plea filed by former union minister and senior advocate Ashwani Kumar who has sought directions with regard to the elderly, saying they need more care and protection in this time of the pandemic.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Kumar told the bench that only some states including Odisha and Punjab have responded to the petition so far, adding that priority should be granted to elderly people who are being treated at hospitals.

Referring to an affidavit filed by Manipur, he said that states should be directed to file better affidavits detailing the action taken so far. 

After hearing the submissions, the apex court bench granted four weeks of further time to the states to file their responses on the plea.

In its August 4 order, the SC had said that looking at their vulnerability, the elderly should be given priority in admission in government hospital and in the event of any complaint made by them, the hospital administration shall take immediate steps to remedy their grievances.

It also said that the top court had already issued directions on December 13, 2018, in the matter and those directives were needed to be complied with by all concerned, including the states.

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Earlier, Kumar had told the SC that the elderly living alone are “worst sufferers” and they are not able to get medicines, masks, sanitisers, and other essential goods.

In its December 2018 verdict, the apex court had said that the statutory rights of over 10 crore elderly persons in India must be recognised and implemented.

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