Did you know there is an Act that defines the terms “Parents and Senior Citizens”? As per Section 2(d) of The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, Parent means father or mother whether biological, adoptive or step-parent and includes father-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandparents, whether or not a senior citizen and Section 2(h) defines “senior citizen” as any person being a citizen of India, who has attained the age of sixty years or above
As per the above Act, Children, I mean, Son, Daughter, grandson and grand-daughter, step-children, adoptive children or children-in-law are obliged to look after the parents, including grandparents. If they fail to do so, the parents/grandparents can file a petition with the Maintenance Tribunal for relief.
I read a judgment wherein the High Court directed a son, who had misbehaved with his parents and had manhandled his mother, to vacate the house within 30 days. So, my young friends, please share this information with your friends! If Seniors lodge a complaint, one can happily stay in a gated community with police protection, eating in aluminum plates for up to 6 months!
Can’t look after the parents (maybe due to advancement of age, they too exhibit irritating behavior)? No problem, pay them Rs.10,000 per month towards maintenance (Note: the amendment bill of 2019 removes this upper limit, so the cost may go up on a case-to-case basis) and find them a decent place to lead a dignified living. Children are not only morally responsible but also legally bound to care for their parents.
I always suggest to my friends, not to transfer any of their assets, during their lifetime, to their children or grandchildren. One of the pressing issues at old age, next only to health, is financial freedom. Having said that, execute the required documents including a Registered Will for the smooth transition of assets to the children. They shouldn’t find it hard to gain control over the assets, which they have to rightfully inherit.
A few days back I met a Senior Citizen, 85 years, staying with his ailing wife, 80 years in an independent house. He was proudly (and loudly) claiming that his daily routine includes cooking, cleaning, and looking after his wife! His son may have his own reasons as to why he is not staying with his parents. I also know another case where a well-educated son, having a highly paid MNC job, looked after his ailing dad (till his demise), as if he had no other work to do! Son may have reasons as to why he was so compassionate!
India has moved from the Joint family system to a Nuclear Family system. Now, inching towards the Nano family – only husband and wife! Parents and kids live separately.
Looking at the diverse outlook of youngsters towards the elders, the Government enacted the welfare Act in 2007, an applaudable piece of legislature. (Does this mean that there was no Law prior to 2007 for the protection of elders? No. Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with maintenance of wives, children, and parents)
Some of the vital takeaways of this noble Act are –
- If senior citizens are unable to live out of their own earnings/savings, then they are entitled to get relief/maintenance support from children. Maintenance includes food, clothing, residence, and medical attendance & treatment.
- If the children abuse (physically, verbally or emotionally, economically) abandons, or neglect the parents or senior citizens, they shall be punishable with fine, imprisonment, or both.
- The deprived elders can approach the Maintenance Tribunal seeking relief. As per the Act, the said application has to be disposed of within 90 days (or can be extendable by 30 days in exceptional cases)
- If the Order is not followed, violations attract penal provisions including a month’s jail term.
Further, the Act also provides setting up of Old age Homes, medical care centers, addresses the issues like protection of life and property of Senior Citizens, eviction of abusive son or daughter from the property.
Reversal of Gift Deed: The Tribunal has the powers to cancel the Gift deed by nullifying the said transfer as void. So, abusive children can’t shunt their parents away after getting the property.
Not sure how far this legal recourse will benefit the deprived, but surely, the awareness of such an Act itself will act as a deterrent for ill-doings by abusive children.
Should caring for the elders be an obligation? Should the Law insist children’s care for parents? Is it not a joyful thing to care for the parents who usually, suffer from issues like isolation, loneliness, boredom, mobility, apart from illness as they age? Let’s love our parents and treat them with loving care. We will only know their value when you see their empty chair.
Happy New Year.
B E Kumar Prasad