The court also ordered a reevaluation of the eligibility criteria, which includes an annual family income of Rs 1 lakh, and suggested data-driven surveys to gauge the demand for the scheme and economic conditions.
In the interim, it instructed the government to establish a transparent mechanism for real-time information about vacancies under the Rules and to consider creating a wait list for eligible individuals.
The court stressed on simplifying the application process to ensure accessibility for indigent applicants. Its decision came in response to pleas from individuals affected by the Rules, one of whom had their enrollment application rejected due to slot exhaustion, while another sought an extension of benefits to more qualifying applicants.
The Old Age Assistance Rules provide financial aid to individuals aged 60 and above, with certain residency and income criteria.
The court recognised concerns about the cap on beneficiaries but stated that judicial intervention is limited unless there is manifest arbitrariness or unreasonableness.
While uniform eligibility criteria aim to distribute resources systematically and equitably, the court expressed concern that some deserving individuals are left out.
It emphasised the need for a transparent and accessible mechanism to improve the Rules’ functionality and accessibility while aligning them with the goal of providing financial assistance and social security to the elderly.