People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, AIR 2008 SC 495: 2007 AIR SCW 7360
Welfare scheme – National Maternity Benefit Scheme vis-a-vis Janani Suraksha Yojna – Introduction of new scheme and modification of scheme – Shortcomings and implementation aspects considered – Directions issued.
(a) The Union of India and all the State Governments and the Union Territories shall (i) continue with the NMBS, and (ii) ensure that all BPL pregnant women get cash assistance 8-12 weeks prior to the delivery.
(b) The amount shall be Rs. 500 per birth irrespective of number of children and the age of the woman.
(c) The Union of India, State Governments and the Union Territories shall file affidavits within 8 weeks from today indicating the total number of births in the State, number of eligible BPL women who have received the benefits, number of BPL women who had home/non-institutional deliveries and have received the benefit, number of BPL women who had institutional deliveries and have received the benefit.
(d) The total number of resources allocated and utilized for the period 2000-2006.
(e) All concerned Governments are directed to regularly advertise the revised scheme so that the intended beneficiaries can become aware of the scheme.
(f) The Central Government shall ensure that the money earmarked for the scheme is not utilized for any other purpose. The mere insistence on utilization certificate may not yield the expected result.
(g) It shall be the duty of all the concerned to ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach the intended beneficiaries. In case it is noticed that there is any diversion of the funds allocated for the scheme, such stringent action as is called for shall be taken against the erring officials responsible for diversion of the funds.
At this juncture it would be necessary to take note of certain connected issues which have relevance. It seems from the scheme that irrespective of number of children, the beneficiaries are given the benefit. This in a way goes against the concept of family planning which is intended to curb the population growth. Further the age of the mother is a relevant factor because women below a particular age are prohibited from legally getting married. The Union of India shall consider this aspect while considering the desirability of the continuation of the scheme in the present form. After considering the aforesaid aspects and if need be, necessary amendments may be made.
Source: M A Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents (Universal)