Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens – The Law, Provisions and Effects.
With the changing scenario of our society wherein the incidences of children leaving the old parents unattended are increasing, the lawmakers thought that it was pertinent to have a law enacted to safeguard the old and senior citizen during their sunset period of life. Since the senior citizens, mostly, are not capable of generating any income for themselves and thus if not taken care by the children and family members can be forced to lead a life of pauper, hence there was a need to make laws under which the parents and senior citizens can claim and ask for maintenance from their children. Keeping that in the mind the legislators enacted THE MAINTENANCE AND WELFARE OF PARENTS AND SENIOR CITIZENS ACT in the year 2007.
This Act and its provisions are welcome step and thus it created a bedrock ground for all the neglected and suffering parents to knock the doors of the justice of temple and seek the right of life by asking for maintenance from their children. Keeping the state, status and conditions of the senior citizens in the mind this law was enacted with absolute simplicity so that the petitioners do not face hassles in moving the court to get the decent amount of money to sustain themselves. Thus, even the process and steps have been kept simple.
Now, let’s try to understand some important concepts and gain knowledge about the provisions under this Act and how one can approach the court under this law.
CHILDREN: The law says that the word Children includes SON, DAUGHTER, GRADSON and GRANDDUAGHTER. That means not only the son is responsible to look after the parents but also the daughters and grandchildren.
PARENT: 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 mother is senior citizen.
SENIOR CITIZEN: Means any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of sixty years or above.
OVERRIDING EFFECT OF THIS ACT: The lawmakers were absolutely clear that there should not be nay roadblock for the senior citizens when they want the maintenance from their legal heirs and children, so, they made it clear that nay other law which is inconsistent with this law will not have any effect and the provisions of this Act will prevail.
ELIGIBILITY TO MAKE AN APPLICATION FOR MAINTENANCE: A senior citizen including parents who is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitles to make an application.
AGAINST WHOM THE CASE CAN BE FILED: The senior citizen or parent can file the case against one or more of his children (son & daughter) and also against his relative if the petitioner is childless. The relative against whom the application will be moved will be one who will inherit the property of the applicant.
MAINTENANCE AMOUNT: The court or tribunal will decide the maintenance amount after hearing the parties but he maximum amount that can be paid as maintenance is Rs. 10,000/- (Ten Thousand) per month.
PUNISHMENT FOR ABANDONING: 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 term which may extend to three months or fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both.
The procedure to be followed in such cases are similar to Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which deals with Order for Maintenance of Wives, Children and Parents. This means that the cases under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be filed in a civil court but only can be field in Tribunal or criminal court.
CONCLUSION: The number of cases under this law is very less because of reasons like the old citizens do not have the wherewithal to fight a case, do not have money to hire and engage a lawyer to help them and certainly most of them are not aware about the existence of this law. There must be an endeavour to propagate awareness about this law as it can be a great saviour for some hapless souls who have nowhere to go when their knees are not strong enough to carry their weight.