Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Written by: KRISHNAPRIYA M S
Parents are equal to god in our culture. We believe parents have supreme authority over us. They take care of us with love and affection and are there with us when we require their support. Still, many children misuse the love and affection by them by keeping an eye over their asset and fail to recognize the valuable “asset” which takes care of us for our entire life. The senior citizens are the ones who had owned rich culture and other resources and handed over to the youth the responsibility to lead the world. Once they conserved all for us now we in return are bound to take care of them. Now, this is a legal responsibility for us more than moral responsibility.
LEGAL BENEFITS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
From the beginning of the 20th century, the government had shifted its focus towards protecting the rights of senior citizens before this we had personal laws to provide the rights of senior citizens. Sec 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act gives rights to the parents to claim maintenance from their children, but it cannot be used against stepchildren. Muslim personal law allows parents to claim maintenance from their children. The national policy 1999 the men above 60 and women above 58 have a concession on railway tickets.The concession is 40% for men and 50% for women. Air India provides a 50 % concession for the elderly flying in economy class.There are several other such schemes available for senior citizens.
Things have changed since the Welfare and Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007. The welfare of citizens was a part of directive principles of state policy in article 41 of our constitution but the word “senior citizen “was not there in article 41. It only stated that the state shall ensure to make effective provisions for the protection of “old age”.The term old age was not having clarity on age as this statute got introduced it widens the scope of their protection. Now, we all know that senior citizens are the ones who are at or above the age of 60.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Senior Citizens Act 2007
Senior citizens are protected primarily under the provisions of this act. The government of India had launched National Action Plan for senior citizens which included the agenda of spreading awareness among the people on provisions in maintenance and welfare of parents citizens act.
Sec 4 of this act provides right for the senior citizens to claim maintenance from their children (biological or adoptive), grandchildren or relative who inherits their property on their death when they are unable to maintain themselves
Sec 5 of this act allows the senior citizens to apply to maintenance under sec 4 in tribunals. The maintenance tribunals are constituted by an officer, not below the rank of sub-divisional officer of the state. They have the right to claim an interim monthly allowance under section 5 (2). An application filed claiming monthly interim monthly allowance should be disposed of within 90 days from the date directed the person to pay. It could be extended to 30 days. If the parties had failed to do payment an application should be filed in a tribunal within 3 months of the due date.
Sec 6 lays down the procedure to be followed by the tribunal. The opposite parties are summoned to the tribunal and evidence is taken in their presence and the case is heard. If the opposite party fails to appear orders shall be passed without hearing the other party. The tribunal may appoint a conciliation officer to enquire upon the matter heard. If the matter is settled the tribunal may pass subsequent order.
Sec 9 of this act states that if the parties neglect to maintain they will be directed to pay a monthly allowance, not beyond 10,000.
Sec 15 of this act speaks about appellate tribunal which should include an officer of a rank not less than a district magistrate.
Sec 16 permits the senior citizen to file an appeal within 60 days of the date of order.
Sec 17 makes it clear that no legal representation could be done in trial or appellate tribunal.
Sec 23 specifies that a transfer of property done by a party could be declared null and void if the owners fail to provide basic facilities for the senior citizen who had transferred the property through a gift deed.
Sec 25 specifies that abandoning a senior citizen intentionally by a person who authorized to take care of them could be punished with imprisonment extended up to 3 years or a fine of rs 5,000 or both.
These are some of the important sections which are mentioned in this act that could help the senior citizens to claim their reliefs.
This act doesn’t allow the senior citizens to have legal representation which is a violation of sec 30 of the advocates act and also this provision is viewed to be unconstitutional by the High Court of Kerala. There should not be an absolute bar on legal representation. The statute is ambiguous and the court had directed the central government to re-examine the statute.The central government had proposed an amendment bill that hasn’t passed yet. Keeping an upper limit over the maintenance allowance will violate the fundamental rights of the senior citizen that is the right to live life with dignity.The ambiguity of the statute also makes the process miserable for authorities to act judiciously.
The government had tried to include the welfare of senior citizens to uphold the constitutional values and to ensure proper care to senior citizens. Senior citizens were the ones who were vaccinated first. While several other countries like China had failed to give importance to the life of senior citizens, we as a country were trying to save the citizens of India as a whole including senior citizens. Senior citizens also have the same rights which are available for the youth and also have some responsibilities. Being above the age of 60 doesn’t make them unproductive. They have a treasure of life experiences more with them. Creating an age bar of 60 and categorizing them as unproductive and useless is a bad attitude. Colonel Sanders. The founder of KFC had started his business after 65, so what makes old age unproductive and vulnerable is a big question to be addressed.
Senior citizen concession, Available at http://contents.irctc.co.in/en/Senior_Citizen_Concession.pdf ( last visited June 18, 2021 )  Air India Concessionary fair, Available at https://www.airindia.in/senior-citizen-concession.htm ( last visited June 18, 2021) The constitution of India, 1950 Benefits of social security schemes to senior citizens, Available at https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1706913 ( last visited June 18, 2021) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Senior Citizens Act,2007 ( Act 56 of 2007)  Paramjit Kumar Saroya v. Union of India and anr( 2014) AIR 121 Francis Coralie Mullin v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi and Ors. (1981) 1 SCC 608