Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
Why this Act?
Getting old has become a major social challenge due to waning of the joint family system in the Indian families. Families are shrinking, now we have micro families. Abandoning elderly people are rampant in our society, children now see that their old parents are headache and nuisance for their comfortable lives.
A large number of elderly persons, especially widowed women are not being looked after by the members of their family. They are forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect. They are being denied food, medical and financial support by their children and relatives. To combat this social challenge there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for the older persons.
There is a provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 under which parents can claim maintenance from their children but the procedure is time consuming due to the long pendency of the matters in our courts.
In the backdrop of this “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 is enacted. The Act aims simple, inexpensive and speedy procedures to claim maintenance by the suffering parents and the said provisions help the childless senior citizens also to claim maintenance from the persons who inherit their property.
The Act made provisions for setting up “old age homes” to take care of the indigent senior citizens and to provide better medical facilities to the senior citizens and to protect their life and property.
The main principles and features of the Act is explained hereunder in the question and answer format for easy understanding.
- Who are covered or who can take benefit of the Act? [Section 4]
(1) Parents and (2) Senior Citizens can approach the tribunal for the relief provided under the Act if such parent or the senior citizen is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or out of the property owned by him.
- Who is parent under the Act? [Section 2(d)]
“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.
- Who is “senior citizen” under the Act? [Section 2(h)]
“Senior Citizen” means any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of sixty years or above.
- Who are liable to maintain parent and senior citizen?
Children and relative are liable to maintain the parent and the senior citizen as the case may be.
- Who are children under the Act? [Section 2(a)]
“Children” includes son, daughter, grandson and grand daughter but does not include a minor.
- Who is relative? [Section 2(g)]
“Relative” means any legal heir of the childless senior citizen who is not a minor and is in possession of or would inherit his property after his death.
- Where do file the application?
a). where the complainant (parent or senior citizen) resides or last resided
b). where children or relative resides
- What would be the relief that can be claimed by the parents or the senior citizen from their children or the relative as the case may be? [Section 9]
The parent or senior citizen can claim monthly maintenance from their children or the relative, as the case may be, for an amount which is maximum of Rs. 10,000/-.
- Whether in all cases the tribunal pass an order for maximum maintenance amount, i.e. Rs. 10,000/-per month?
No, the tribunal may pass an order for maintenance it deem fit that the children or the relative, as the case may be, neglect and refuse to maintain the parent or the senior citizen and the maintenance amount will be depended upon the facts and circumstances of each case. While passing the order the tribunal shall consider the economic capacity of the children and the relative, as the case may be.
- Whether the tribunal have power to order the interim maintenance? [Section 5(2)]
Yes, the tribunal have power to order interim maintenance during the pendency of the proceeding for the monthly maintenance.
- What is the time frame prescribed to complete the proceedings for monthly maintenance? [Section 5(4)]
90 days from the date of service of notice, may be extended for another 30 days on exceptional circumstances.
- How do compel errant children or relative, as the case may be, to pay maintenance as ordered by the tribunal? [Section 5(8)]
If, the children or relative so ordered fail, without sufficient cause to pay the maintenance, any such tribunal constituted under the Act, may issue a warrant for levying the amount due and sentence such person for the whole, or any part of each month’s allowance for the maintenance remaining unpaid after execution of warrant, to imprisonment for a term which extend to one month or until payment if sooner made whichever is earlier. However, no warrant shall be issued unless an application be made to the tribunal to levy such amount within a period of three months from the date on which it became due.
- Where the tribunal is constituted? [Section 7]
For each Sub – Division one tribunal is constituted presided by an officer not below the rank of Sub-Divisional Officer of the State.
- Whether the order passed under this Act is appealable? [Section 16]
Yes, the aggrieved parent or senior citizen, as the case may be, have right to file an appeal before the Appellate Tribunal constituted and presided by an officer not below the rank of the District Magistrate within 60 days from the date of the order. The appeal can be filed even after 60 days from the date of the order, if the aggrieved parent or the senior citizen prove that there was sufficient reason that prevented him to file the Appeal within time.
- Whether an aggrieved parent or senior citizen can approach the tribunal constituted under the Act and the Magistrate of the First Class simultaneously for the maintenance? [Section 12]
No, the aggrieved parent or senior citizen who is entitled to apply for maintenance under this Act and chapter 9 of the Code of Criminal procedure can claim the maintenance either this Act or the Code of Criminal Procedure but not under both.
- Whether any party in the proceedings under this Act have right for legal representation by an Advocate? [Section 17]
No, Section 17 of the Act bars legal representation by a lawyer. However, if the parent or senior citizen desire, the Maintenance Officer, who is not below the rank of District Social Welfare Officer, appointed under the Act shall represent him before the tribunal or before the Appellate Tribunal.
- Whether the tribunal have power to do alteration of monthly maintenance awarded? [Section 10]
Yes, the tribunal have power to alter the monthly maintenance, if it is proved that the order of maintenance was passed due to misrepresentation or mistake of facts. And the tribunal can alter the monthly maintenance upon change of circumstance also.
- How do the tribunal enforce the order for monthly maintenance? [Section 11]
The order for maintenance can be enforced by tribunal constituted under the Act in any place where the person against whom it is made. The maintenance order under this act shall have the same force and effect as an order passed under chapter 9 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and shall be executed in the manner prescribed for execution of the order made under that Code. If children or relative, as the case may be, neglect or refuses to pay the monthly maintenance ordered by the tribunal, the aggrieved parent or the senior citizen can approach any Magistrate of First Class, the place where the errant children or the relative, as the case may be, be found.
- What are the other powers the tribunal having rather than passing an order and alter the order for monthly maintenance?
i). Section 23 of the Act provides power to the Tribunal that a property transferred by a senior citizen after the commencement of the Act by way of gift or otherwise with the condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and basic physical needs to the transferor and subsequently if the transferee refuses or fails to provide the said promises, the transfer of the said 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.
ii). Punishment ; Section 24 of the Act. –
whoever having the care or protection of senior citizen, leaves such senior citizen in any place with an intention to abandon him shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months or fine which may extent to Rs. 5000/- or with both.
- What are the other benefits provided to the senior citizen by the Act? [Sections 19 and 20]
i). Establishment of old age homes. – Section 19 of the Act. –
there is provision in the Act to establish and maintain old age homes at accessible places with at least one in each district to accommodate minimum of 150 indigent senior citizens.
ii). Provision for medical Care of senior citizen. – (Section 20)
Medical support for senior citizens. – The State Government shall ensure that,
i. the Government hospitals or hospitals funded fully or partially by the Government shall provide beds for all senior citizens as far as possible;
ii. separate queues be arranged for senior citizens;
iii. facility for treatment of chronic, terminal and degenerative diseases is expanded for senior citizens;
iv. research activities for chronic elderly diseases and ageing is expanded.
v. there are earmarked facilities for geriatric patients in every district hospital duly headed by a medical officer with experience in geriatric care.