Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens
The population of the elderly persons has been increasing over the years. In India also, about 8% of the total population is above 60 years. The figure will cross 18% Mark by 2025. Senior citizens faced number of problems. Mainly they are faced economic problem due to loss of employment, income deficiency and economic insecurity. Another major problem is physical and physiological problems include health and medical problems, nutritional deficiency, and the problem of adequate housing etc. In order to protect the rights of senior citizens and old parents the Government of India provides special provisions to seniors citizens in number of legislations viz. Art’s. 41 and 46 of Constitution of India, 1950 and for maintenance under Sec.125 of Cr.P.C., 1973, and Sec.20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 to Hindus and other uncodified personal laws. However, recently the Government of India enacted a separate legislation namely The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Act N0. 56 of 2007) to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and to establish special Tribunals for enforcement of the provisions of this Act.
In 1992, the UN General Assembly adopted the proclamation to observe the year 1999 as the International Year of the Older Persons. The U.N. General Assembly has declared “1st October” as the International Day of the Older Persons. The U.N. General Assembly on December 16, 1991 adopted 18 principles which are organized into five clusters, namely- independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and dignity of the older parents.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 provides more effective provisions for the maintenance (includes provisions for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment) and welfare (means provisions for food, health care, recreation centre’s and other amenities) of Parents and Senior Citizens. In this concern the children includes son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter but does not include minor.
Part II of the Act clearly stated the duty of the children to provide maintenance to the Parents and Senior Citizens. Here Parent means father or mother whether biological, adoptive or step father or step mother, as the case may be, whether or not the father or the mother is a senior citizen (attained the age of sixty years or above) who is unable to maintain themselves from his own earning or property owned by him. A childless senior citizen also can claim maintenance from his relative. Relative means any legal heir of childless senior citizen who is not a minor, and having sufficient means, and is in possession of or would inherit his property after his death. Provided, that where more than one relatives are entitled to inherit the property of a senior citizen, the maintenance shall be payable by such relative in the proportion in which they would inherit his property. Thus the Parents or Senior Citizen or if that person is incapable, by any other person or organization authorized by him, or the Tribunal suo motu may take an application to Maintenance Tribunal against any children or relative in any District – (a) where he resides or last resided or (b) where children or relative resides.
The State Government, by Notification in the Official Gazette, constitute for each sub-division one or more Tribunals as may be specified in the Notification for the purpose of adjudicating and decide the order for maintenance application filed by the parent or senior citizen. The Tribunal before hearing an application made by the parent or senior citizen refers the same to conciliation officer and such conciliation officer shall submit his findings within one month and if amicable settlement has been arrived at, the Tribunal shall pass an order to that effect. If children or relative, as the case may be, neglect or refuse to maintain himself, the Tribunal may, order such children or relatives to make a monthly allowance at such monthly rate for the maintenance of such senior citizen, as the Tribunal may deem fit and to pay the same to such senior citizen as the Tribunal may, from time to time, direct. The maximum maintenance allowance which may be ordered by such Tribunal shall be such as may be prescribed by the State government which shall not exceed ten thousand rupees per month. A maintenance order made under this Act shall have the same force and effect as an order passed under section 125 of Cr.P.C., 1973 order for maintenance of wives, children and parents, and shall be executed in the manner prescribed for execution of such order by the Code. Any senior citizen or a parent, as the case may be, aggrieved by an order of any senior citizen or a parent, as the case may be, aggrieved by an order of a Tribunal may, within sixty days from the date of the order, prefer an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal. The order of the Appellate Tribunal shall be final.
Whoever, having the care or protection of senior citizen leaves, such senior citizen in any place with the intention of wholly abandoning such senior citizen, shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months or fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both.
Old Age Homes:
The State Government may establish and maintain such number of oldage homes at accessible places, as it may deem necessary, in a phased manner, beginning with at least one in each district to accommodate in such homes a minimum of one hundred fifty senior citizens who are indigent. The State Government may, prescribe a scheme for management of oldage homes, including the standards and various types of services to be provided by them which are necessary for medical care and means of entertainment to the inhabitants of such homes.
Medical support to Senior Citizen:
The State Government in order to medical support to senior citizens, shall ensure that –
- the Government Hospitals or hospitals funded fully or partially by the Government shall provide beds for all senior citizens as far as possible;
- separate queues be arranged for senior citizens;
- facility for treatment of chronic, terminal and degenerative diseases is expanded for senior citizens;
- research activities for chronic elderly diseases and ageing is expanded;
- there are earmarked facilities for geriatric patients in every District Hospital duly headed by a Medical Officer with experience in geriatric care.
Protection of Life and Property of Senior Citizen:
Where any senior citizen who, after the commencement of this Act, has by way of gift or otherwise, his property, subject to the condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and basic physical needs to the transferor and such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs, the said transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence and shall at the option of the transferor be declared void by the Tribunal.
Where any senior citizen has a right to receive maintenance out of an estate and such estate or part , thereof is transferred, the right to receive maintenance may be enforced against the transferee if the transferee has notice of the right, or if the transfer is gratuitous; but not against the transferee for consideration and without notice of right.
Every offence under this Act shall be cognizable and bailable. An offence under this Act shall be tried summarily by a Magistrate.
Government of India provides some reliefs to senior citizens by various schemes apart from the provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 namely (a) travelling concessions to seniors, pensions are provided to senior citizens if they are unable to maintain themselves, etc.,.
It may be conclude by saying that the degeneration of joint family system dislocates the familiar bonds and loss of respect to the aged person. The family in modern times should not be thought to be a secure place for aged parents. Even though, the State Government, take all measures for publicity, awareness, etc. for welfare of senior citizens under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 in order to create awareness of rights of parents and senior citizens and obligations of children’s / legal heirs, major number of the children’s parents conscious not allowed to make complaints against their children’s, because they wouldn’t causing problems to their children’s, always they want and wish the children’s life should be prosperous even though they are not in a safe position. However, some of the problems of the elder persons are unsolved through the legislation. Thus, there is an urgent need to protect them with utmost good care because of the toothless laws encouraging quacks in society.
Dr. Sailaja. Petikam