Monday, December 4, 2023

The Yogi ensures more protection

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In a positive move for parents and senior citizens in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi government is preparing to give them legal rights to expel their children or anyone living in their house if they are not happy with them. 

The state government has sent a proposal to the cabinet to amend rules under the central government’s Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Under the existing rules for the welfare of senior citizens—Application for Maintenance (Section 5)—the application can be made by a senior citizen or a parent and if he is incapable, by any other person or organisation authorised by him, or the Tribunal may take cognizance suo motu. 

The Tribunal may, during the pendency of the proceeding regarding monthly allowance for the maintenance under this Section, order such children or relatives to make a monthly allowance for the interim maintenance of the senior citizen. On receipt of an application for maintenance, the children or relative should be given an opportunity of being heard and an inquiry held for determining the amount of maintenance. 

An application filed under sub-section (2) for monthly allowance for maintenance and expenses shall be disposed of within 90 days from the date of serving the notice to such a person. The Tribunal may extend this once for a maximum period of 30 days in exceptional circumstances for reasons to be recorded in writing. An application for maintenance under sub-section (1) may be filed against one or more persons provided such children or relative may implead the other person liable to maintain the parent in the application for maintenance.

If a maintenance order is made against more than one person, the death of one of them does not affect the liability of others to continue paying maintenance. Any such allowance for the maintenance and expenses for proceeding shall be payable from the date of the order, or, if so ordered, from the date of the application for maintenance or expenses of proceeding, as the case may be. 

If the children or relative fail, without sufficient cause, to comply with the order, any such Tribunal may issue a warrant for levying the amount and sentence the person for the whole, or any part of each month’s allowance for the maintenance and expenses. Even after execution of the warrant, if it is unpaid, imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or until payment is made will be imposed.

The government also gave an order for maintenance under Section 9. Its provisions are: 

(1) If children or relatives neglect or refuse to maintain a senior citizen unable to maintain himself, the Tribunal may order them to make a monthly allowance. 

(2) The maximum maintenance allowance which may be ordered by such a Tribunal shall be such as may be prescribed by the state government which shall not exceed Rs 10,000 per month.

Section 19 deals with the establishment of old age homes and says the government may establish and maintain such homes at accessible places in a phased manner, beginning with at least one in each district. These homes should accommodate a minimum of 150 senior citizens who are indigent. It also says that the state government may prescribe a scheme for management of old age homes, which includes standards and various types of services such as medical care and means of entertainment to the inhabitants.

Section 20, which deals with medical support for senior citizens, says government hospitals or those funded fully or partially by the government shall provide beds for all senior citizens as far as possible. There should be separate queues for senior citizens; facility for treatment of chronic, terminal and degenerative diseases should be expanded for senior citizens; research activities for chronic elderly diseases and ageing should be expanded; there should be facilities earmarked for geriatric patients in every district hospital headed by a medical officer with experience in geriatric care.

Section 21 deals with measures for publicity, awareness, etc., for welfare of senior citizens and says that the state government should ensure that all provisions of this Act are given wide publicity through public media, including television, radio and print, at regular intervals; all central and state government officers, including police officers and members of the judicial service, should be given periodic sensitisation and awareness training on the issues relating to this Act. In addition, effective co-ordination between the services provided by the concerned ministries or departments dealing with law, home affairs, health and welfare should address issues relating to the welfare of senior citizens and periodical review of it should be conducted.

In Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, an 80-year-old mother who raised three sons was kept hungry for three days and then beaten and thrown out of the house by them. A complaint was registered at Dibiyapur police station in Auraiya. In another horrifying incident in Kanpur, a son evicted his elderly parents who then kept wandering in the streets for 22 days. Ever since the son got married three years ago, he and his wife were mentally torturing the elderly couple. On the night of June 3, both beat the elderly couple and threw them out next morning. When someone took this elderly couple to the district magistrate’s office, this horrifying reality came to light.

In October this year, the Allahabad High Court while disposing of a petition observed that children are expected to look after their elderly parents properly. This was not only a value-based principal, but a bounden duty as mandated by law. It is often seen that after receiving the property from their parents, the children abandon them.

Incidentally, in 2021, the Allahabad High Court held that orders under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act cannot be issued in cases for handing over the possession of a particular part of the undivided ancestral property and the authorities also do not have the right to divide the property.

Similar judicial action has also been seen in other states. The Bombay High Court this year directed Maharashtra to place on record details regarding the State Council, District Committees/District Co-ordination-cum Monitoring Committees on implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Sandeep V Marne heard a PIL filed for a direction to Maharashtra to issue detailed guidelines for licensing, registration and management of the old age homes there. Further directions were sought in respect of the scheme framed under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules 2010.

In the sunset years of their life, the least parents expect is for children to look after them. 

—By Shivam Sharma and India Legal Bureau

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