Taking note of pitiable condition of widows in Virandavan of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on their socio-economic conditions.
A bench of Justice D K Jain directed the committee, headed by chairman of Mathura District Legal Services Authority to conduct an enumeration of the widows living in the city within eight weeks.
The bench asked the committee to submit its report to it by July 25, the next date of hearing.
The bench said the committee should compile and prepare a list of widows with their respective names, ages, addresses, places of origin, reasons for being in Virandavan and whether there was any property in their or their husbands' names in their native places.
The committee would also comprise of the representatives of the National Commission for woman, those from the Uttar Pradesh government, district collector, district medical officer and Mathura's senior superintendent of police, the bench said.
The court passed the order on a plea seeking its direction to the Centre and the state government to provide shelter and other necessary facilities to the widows in the city, who have been abandoned by their family members.
The court's direction came as per the recommendations of advocate Indira Shani who on behalf of the National Legal Services Authority suggested that the court should set up the committee for enumeration of widows in the religious town of Virandavan.
Earlier, the apex court had sought replies of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea by the pitiable conditions of Vrindavan widows, requiring immediate steps for their rehabilitation and better living.
The court had issued notices on a PIL highlighting the plight of widows who have been living in Vrindavan and begging at temples and then huddling together in hovels, which they call their homes.
The NGO, in its petition pointed out to the court that the widows who congregate for around seven to eight hours for Bhajans, get only Rs 18 a day.
The NGO also had told the court that a majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed in Vrindavan by the NCW have children who do not care for them.
In a report to the apex court, the statutory women's body recommended fastening of liability on the children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
It had said an estimated 5,000-10,000 widows were living like beggars in ashrams dotting the two holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan and were being sexually exploited.
The NCW's second report to the court said 81 per cent ofthese women were illiterate.