Detail steps for senior citizens’ care during pandemic, SC tells States

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the States to provide a more detailed version of the measures in place to provide care, support and priority medical treatment to senior citizens, especially those who live alone during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan gave the States four weeks to file comprehensive affidavits.

The court’s order was in response to a submission made by senior advocate Ashwani Kumar that the States have merely paid lip-service to the court order of August 4 by filing reports.

Mr. Kumar, a former Union Law Minister and petitioner-in-person in the case, referred to media reports showing continued instances of neglect shown to elderly people.

Justice Bhushan, however, said the court cannot be expected to look into every individual case. “It is a big country”, he remarked.

The Bench said the States should deal with the local problems in their respective jurisdictions.

‘Give pension on time’

On August 4, the court ordered the States to respond promptly to the needs of senior citizens and ensure they do not suffer financially during COVID-19. It also directed that the elderly should get their pension on time.

“All old-age people who are eligible for pension should be regularly paid pension and those identified older people should be provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitisers and other essential goods by the respective States. Further, as and when any individual request is made, the same shall be attended to by the administration with all promptness”, the court had ordered.

It had directed that senior citizens, who were generally vulnerable to the virus, ought to be given priority in government hospital admissions. Government hospitals should take care to promptly remedy any grievances voices by senior citizens during this health crisis.

The Bench had directed that caregivers in old-age homes should wear personal protection equipment (PPE) and follow proper sanitation procedures.

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