Friday, 18 June 2010

Pro bono public interest writ reveals heart-rending living conditions of widows in India

The National Commission for Women (NCW), India recently submitted its survey report to the Supreme Court of India on the neglected condition of widows living in India. The NCW conducted this survey after an order was issued by the Supreme Court of India that accepted a pro bono writ petition filed by Ravindra Bana, a senior practising counsel at the Supreme Court and Founder Director of the Environment & Consumer Protection Foundation (ECPFO).

The writ petition was filed by Ravindra Bana on behalf of ECPFO as a Public Interest Litigation, based on a newspaper report titled White Shadows of Vrindavan that highlighted the deplorable conditions of widows who are driven out of their homes after the death of their husbands to live the rest of their lives in the pilgrimage town of Vrindavan in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. On being approached, the Supreme Court of India immediately admitted the petition and issued notices to the state and central government for their responses. In order to secure fair and detailed information about the status of these widows, the Court requested the NCW to conduct a comprehensive survey on these atrocities committed against women and to submit a report to the Court. The survey report was recently submitted after a delay and will now come up for discussion before the Court in July 2010 when the Court re-opens after its summer break.

Meanwhile, ‘The Times of India’ newspaper has provided some information about this issue, which is available here.

On a related note, the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, USA, hosted an exhibition titled Beloved Daughters, which explored the lives of dispossessed widows and the challenges confronting women in India. The powerful exhibition consisted of exclusive photographs of Indian women paired with their testimony. A brief news article about the exhibition can be read on the Princeton University website.

Posted by
Anurag Bana
IBA Legal Projects Team

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