The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to prioritize senior citizens, from admission in government hospitals to providing safety equipment including PPE, face masks, sanitizers etc., considering their vulnerability to COVID-19.
While issuing the order, the apex court recognized that the Centre is obliged to take care of the senior citizens who are living alone and in old age homes during the pandemic and assure timely help.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy also ordered the Ministry to ensure that old age pension for these senior citizens is disbursed promptly.
Taking note, the SC said, "We, in this application, which is specially confined to COVID-19 crisis, direct that 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, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective States," reported Bar and Bench.
The top court issued the order after hearing the plea filed by former Rajya Sabha MP and Senior Advocate Dr Ashwani Kuma, stating the elderly not getting admission in government hospitals on a priority basis, irrespective of their capacity to pay for treatment. Kumar's plea also highlighted the need for extensive care for this section of society.
On behalf of the Centre, senior advocate V Mohana told the bench that efforts in this regard are already being made at Centre and the state level, is not an adversarial issue.
Emphasizing on the social justice aspect, the Centre has been asked to relook at the court's 2018 verdict, providing statutory rights of over 10 crore elderly persons in India.