Aug 29, 2020

Old age is an indispensable stage of life of a human being which a man cannot refute except ultimately death. The childhood and old age are natural reliant phases where children depend upon their parents and vice-versa. Nowadays parents are becoming burdensome for their child whenever they lose their strength to work and earn. The present scenario of the country shows the rising trend of adult population. According to census report 2011, there are 60.3% people belonging to 15 to 59 years of age group and the percentage of people above 60 ages is 8.6%. On 14th December, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated 1st October as the international day for older persons. The problems faced by the old aged persons in India like economic problem etc. and mistreatment and harassment faced by the older people in India. Indian society prides itself on its rich culture and heritage. Our Society is largely built on the principles of compassion, respect for elderly, spirituality, integrity, unity in diversity, etc. Throughout the world, Indian lifestyle and family system is revered and often considered as a model which still believes in the concept of joint families. In several cases parents and senior members of the family are subjected to grave physical and mental torture. Deprived of basic necessities of life and often abandoned on streets or old age homes. Such events are example of apathy of the younger generations and an ever growing trend of use abuse and discard. Senior citizens are a key asset of a family, society & nation, as they have wealth of knowledge & experience to share on most facets of life. Yet in their sunset years of life, some face life's biggest & sometimes, unexpected challenges at the hands of their family, organisations and / or society at large. India has in recognition of the same introduced the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to protect the interest(s) of this vulnerable group of society. The judiciary is also pronouncing decisions for this segment of population who, in times of desperation, are required to seek legal intervention & support to safeguard their interest. The landmark legislation called the ‘Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007’, (henceforth referred to as the Maintenance Act) was enacted in December 2007 to provide a legal framework in support of the elderly. The Act provides for the maintenance of parents and senior citizens by children/ relatives. In Indian Culture, the parents take care of their children and grandchildren. Parents in whole of their life time save money for betterment of children and off course the children then takes care of parents and grandparents. However, an issue came before the Government that due to ever increasing cost of living, small families and movement of children to distance place for employments, the parents are being ignored and many of them live their life in isolation with no care. There have been cases where parents transferred their fixed property and movables to their children in their life time with an understanding that children will take care but later they face tough time. To overcome this Government came out with the act and subsequently in 2019 by amendment increased the scope. This Law was necessary as today in India the % of senior Citizens is 12% of total population and which in time will keep on increasing. There was a very recent case in which Bombay High Court stated if children cannot take care of their parents and allow them to live in peace they at least ought not to make their life a living hell. Bombay High Court has rescued a 70-year old widow who was being brutally tortured (physically as well as mentally) by her own daughter from the past many years. It is alleged that the daughter had put the old lady under home arrest with broken nerves and a fractured shoulder, and had not provided any medical aid to her.  The object of the Act is to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of the senior citizens guaranteed and recognised under the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution mandates “the state to make effective provision for securing the old age. It is also stated in Article 46 of the Indian Constitution that “Promotion of educational and economic interests of other weaker sections: The State shall promote with special care of the weaker sections of the people, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. There are 32 Sections and VII Chapters in the Act. The main features of the Act are as such to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance of Patents and Senior Citizens, this act has been enacted. By this Act, the parent and senior citizen may make a complaint against his children and relatives to the concerned authority where he or his children and relatives are residing. Only parents and senior citizens are having right to appeal against the order of a lower authority. In India, as a result of the change in the age composition of the population over time, there has been a progressive increase in both the number and proportion of aged people. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, in the year 1999 formulated and declared the National Policy on Older Persons. NGO’s and some other private institutions are also playing a very important role in society for elderly people. The government should support these NGO’s to improve the condition of the older people in the society. But, without the awareness and support of the people in the society, all these laws and provisions would be useless because it is not only a legal problem but a social problem as well. One should never forget that every child has to grow and has one day to fall in the category of old aged person/parents. What we give to our parents shall automatically come back upon us.