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INTRODUCTION

Old age is an irreversible biological phenomenon, one that eventually terminates


with the end of the life of a human being. That is more like science but in our daily life,
where attitudes, behavior, values, aesthetics rule there is more than can be defined of an
old age. It is one experience that cannot be had otherwise.
When the trails of experience and wisdom have made a lasting impression on the
human himself, one can say he is never out of it. It is a gift which no one can refuse to
take. But the transformations brought in our society sometimes make us scare of this
stage as everyone of us has to face it one day.
India is growing old! The stark reality of the ageing scenario in India is that
there are 77 million older persons in India today, and the number is growing to
grow to 177 million in another 25 years. With life expectancy having increased
from 40 years in 1951 to 64 years today, a person today has 20 years more to
live than he would have 50 years back.
Old Age has never been a problem for India where a value based, joint family system is
supposed to prevail. Indian culture is automatically respectful and supportive of elders.
With that background, elder abuse has never been considered as a problem in India and
has always been thought of as a western problem. However, the coping capacities of the
younger and older family members are now being challenged and more often than not
there is unwanted behaviour by the younger family members, which is experienced as
abnormal by the older family member but cannot however be labelled
With this kind of an ageing scenario, there is pressure on all aspects of care for
the older persons – be it financial, health or shelter. As the twenty first century arrives,
the growing security of older persons in India is very visible. It is hard to believe but old
people are among the poorest in many societies and by far one of the most vulnerable
sections of the society. Researches reveal that the old age has become more of an
inevitable threat to an individual today. One reason for this irony could be, due to
governments being prepared for the world’s rapidly ageing population.
Today we see many old aged people being abandoned, as their children prefer to live
separately after marriage or leave their places to make good of their career. Living on
God’s mercy, they either live a downtrodden life till they die or get brutally murdered
while fighting against the odds of life.
In India life expectancy has gone up from 20 years in the beginning of the 20th
century to 62 years today. Better medical care and low fertility have made the elderly the
fastest growing section of society. In France, it took 120 years for the grey population to
double from 7 % to 14 %. But in India, the grey population has doubled in 25 years!
India is still poised to become home to the second largest number of older persons in
the world. Recent statistics related to elderly people in India,(according to census 2001),
showed that as many as 75% of elderly persons were living in rural areas. About 48.2%
of elderly persons were women, out of whom 55% were widows. A total of 73% of
elderly persons were illiterate and dependent on physical labor. One-third was reported to
be living below the poverty line, i.e., 66% of older persons were in a vulnerable situation
without adequate food, clothing, or shelter. About 90% of the elderly were from the
unorganized sector, i.e., they have no regular source of income.
Our culture recognizes the status of the parents as that of God. So it is moral duty or
obligation of children to maintain their parents. Maintenance of Parents is included in
section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Also The Hindu Adoption and
Maintenance Act 1956 provide maintenance to elderly. Under these sections and acts
parents can claim maintenance from their children. But some speedy, inexpensive process
is needed and hence The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and senior Citizen Act,
2007 was enacted. Need for the legislation and some important sections are discussed in
the article.
Need for the legislation: Our culture stated status of parents as that of God through
sayings like “Matrudeo Bhava”, “Pitrudeo Bhava” etc. The famous “Shravankumar’s”
story which was stated in “Ramayana” establishes this fact. Our culture considers them as
first teachers. The foundation of our life is built up by them. So children should take care
of them, respect them. It should be the moral duty of children to maintain their parents.
Our traditional values and norms lay stress on showing respect and providing care for the
aged. In joint family system all members are cared by the family itself. But now a day’s
the concept of joint family system is withering away. And because of industrialization,
money mind, increase in market prices children started neglecting their parents. Children
have no time to look after their parents because of their busy schedule. And as a
consequence of this situation the elders get neglected and they are now exposed to
emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support. Human beings need some
kind of support in this age. Because of this it is necessary to put some legal and moral
obligation on children. And it can be done by enacting some laws and prescribing some
punishment. Threat of punishment is very essential to deal with such a situation. Family
life is very necessary for senior citizens and for parents to lead a life of security, care and
dignity. The population of the older persons in India is continuously increasing. The
Registrar General of India forecasts the share of older persons (age 60 years and above)
in the total population to rise from 6.9% in 2001 to 12.4% in 2026 . The maintenance of
parents was included in section 125 of CrPC but the procedure is time consuming and
expensive. So there is need of a simple, Inexpensive and speedy procedure to claim
maintenance by the suffering parents. And hence ,to cast an obligation on the persons
who inherit the property of their aged relatives to maintain them and to make provisions
for setting up oldage homes for providing maintenance to the indigent older persons and
to provide better medical facilities to the senior citizens and to make provisions for
protection of their life and property the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior
Citizens Bill was introduced in the Parliament.

First Steps By Government To Improve The Situation

Recognizing the facts provided above and believing that preventing growth of
destitution in society is one of the major objectives of any social legislation, the law
makers created provision for maintenance of parents and senior citizens as a duty upon
their children under the section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code(CRPC)
MAIN PROVISIONS:
Section 125 -128 of Criminal Procedure Code provide for a speedy, effective and
rather inexpensive remedy against persons who neglect or refuse to maintain their
dependant parents, to ensure that these neglected parents are not left beggared and
destituted on the scrap heap of society and thereby driven to a life of vagrancy,
immorality and crime for their subsistence. It may also be noted that as the exercise of
powers to grant maintenance is of a judicial character, only Judicial Magistrates of First
Class have been empowered to deal with such matters of maintenance.
Main Provisions Regarding Grant of Maintenance:
Section 125(1)(d): If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain
his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself, a Magistrate of first class may,
upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for
the maintenance of his parents; at such rate in the whole, as such Magistrate thinks fit,
and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct.
Section 125(3): If any person so ordered fails without sufficient cause to comply with the
order, any such Magistrate may, for every breach of the order, issue a warrant for levying
the amount due in the manner provided for levying fixes or may punish imprisonment
him for a term which can be extended to one month or until payment is made.
Procedure: The main procedure to be followed by the Magistrate while
conducting proceedings under section 125 has been prescribed by sub-sections (2) and (3)
of section 126 is provided below:
i) All evidence in such proceeding shall be taken in the presence of the person against
whom an order for payment of maintenance is proposed to be made, or, when his
personal attendance is dispensed with, in the presence of his pleader, and shall be
recorded in the manner prescribed for summon cases:
Provided that if the Magistrate is satisfied that the person against whom an order
for payment of maintenance is proposed to be made is willfully avoiding service, or
willfully neglecting to attend the court, the Magistrate may proceed to hear and determine
the case ex parte and any order so made may be set aside for good cause shown on
application made within three months from the date thereof subject to such terms
including terms as to payment of costs to the opposite party as the Magistrate may think
just and proper.
Alteration in Allowance: On proof of a change in the circumstances of any
person, receiving under section 125 a monthly allowance or ordered under the same
section to pay monthly allowance to his father or mother, the Magistrate may make such
alteration in the allowance as he thinks fit.

But these provisions in the new age proved to be a bit outdated and the whole procedure
was pretty expensive and time consuming. So, the law makers of India introduced the
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents of Senior Citizens Act, 2007 on 29th December,
2007. This act has proven to be a revolution for senior citizens it has barred the
indulgence of advocates in family matters; just file a simple application in the
maintenance tribunal and to get justice and that also within 90 days. It’s so simple the
whole procedure that it avoids chances of any kind of harassment, exploitation or abuse
to the elderly in courts or Government offices.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007

MAIN PROVISIONS
Children, under section 2(a) include son, daughter, grandson and grand-daughter, but
does not include a minor.
Under section 2(d) a parent means father or mother whether biological, adoptive or
stepfather or step mother, as the case may be whether or not the father or mother is a
senior citizen.
Under section 2(h) senior citizen means any citizen of India who have attained the age of
60 years or more.
Welfare under section 2(k) means provision for food, health care, recreation centre and
other amenities necessary for the senior citizens.
A senior citizen including parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own carning
or out of the property owned by him, shall be entitled to make an application under
section 5 in case of:
i) Parent or grand-parent, against one or more of his children not being a
minor;
ii) A childless senior citizen, against such of his relative referred to in section
2(g)
Any person being a relative of a senior citizen and having sufficient means shall maintain
such senior citizen provided he is in possession of the property of such senior citizen or
he would inherit the property of such senior citizen.
The Act provides for justice in just a time period of 90 days after the filing of
application to the Tribunal, also during the pendency of the proceedings regarding
monthly allowance, under section 5 the Tribunal may order such children or relative to
make a monthly allowance for the interim maintenance of such senior citizen.
Another important provision of the act is mentioned under section 17, which says
‘notwithstanding anything contained in any law, no party to a proceeding before a
Tribunal or Appellate Tribunal shall be represented by a legal practitioner.’ This
provision helps the senior citizens by not forcing them to pay heavy fees of advocates.
In Chapter III section 19 the act lays down rules for the State Government to establish
and maintain a number of oldage homes at accessible places, beginning with at least one
in each district to accommodate in such homes a minimum of one hundred fifty senior
citizens who are indigent.
Another important provision is included in Chapter IV under Section 20 which says that
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.

Differences Between the Act and Section 125 of CrPC


i) SENIOR CITIZENS INCLUDED: Section 125 of CrPC is silent on
maintenance of senior citizens. It only provides for maintenance of parents-
which means childless elderly people who despite having heirs to their
property cannot seek refuge or remedy in CrPC whereas in Section 4(1) of the
Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens act, 2007 clearly
stipulates that senior citizens can claim maintenance from legal heirs of their
property.
ii) FILING OF APPLICATION/CASE: Only the aggrieved parentcan file case
under section 125 of CrPC whereas section 5(1) of the Act says that the
application for maintenance can be filed by senior citizens or parent or an
organization authorized by him or the Tribunal may also initiate the case on
its own.
iii) MAINTENANCE TRIBUNAL: Only a Magistrate of First Class can give an
order for maintenance under section 125 of CrPC whereas, Section 7 of the
Act stipulates a constitution of a Maintenance Tribunal, headed by a Sub-
Divisional officer to decide the case.

iv) ADVOCATES BARRED: Lawyers/advocates may represent clients under


Section 125 of CrPC whereas Section 17 of Act says that legal practitioners
shall not represent any party to a proceeding in Tribunal or Appellate
Tribunal.
v) TIME BOUND: Proceedings under 125 of CrPC are not time bound whereas
section 5(4) of the Act specifically says that within 90 days from the date of
service of notice of application, the matter has to be disposed of by the
Tribunal.
vi) APPELLATE TRIBUNAL FOR APPEAL: Any appeal against any order of
maintenance under Section-125 of CrPC has to be in accordance with usual
procedure prescribed in the CrPC, 1973. Whereas Section 15 of the Act
provides for a special Tribunal for appeals, headed by an officer not below the
rank of District Magistrate.
vii) ORDER ON APPEAL IS TIME BOUND: Section 16(1) of the Act says that
the Appellate Tribunal shall make all efforts to pronounce its order in writing
within 30 days of receipt of an appeal.
viii) PROVISION FOR CONCILIATION: Section 125 of CrPC is silent on
conciliation but, Section 6(6) of the Act creates an option for the Tribunal,
before hearing an application, to refer the matter to conciliation officer whose
report must be submitted to the Tribunal within 30 days.
ix) COMPREHENSIVE LEGISLATION: Section 125 of CrPC is silent on welfare
measures and is only confined to provision for maintenance of parents,
whereas the Act is a comprehensive and specific law providing for both
maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens. It has a broader scope
and goes beyond the realm of parent child relationship. The Act places
responsibility on the state for implementing welfare measures for senior
citizens.

Statement of Objects and Reasons for this Law(SOR)


What is Statement of Objects & Reasons (SOR) ?
The SOR generally defines the need, scope, desirability and objectives sought to be
achieved by introducing a particular Law. The statement is usually drafted by the
Legislative Department of Law Ministry before a new law is introduced.
After reading the Statement of Objects given below you one would gain a better
understanding of the perspective and need for a specific law for senior citizens (parents &
elderlies).

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS


Traditional norms and values of the Indian society laid stress on providing care for the
elderly. However, due to withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderly
are not being looked after by their family. Consequently, many older persons, particularly
widowed women are now forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to
emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support. This clearly reveals that
ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to
the care and protection for the older persons. Though the parents can claim maintenance
under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the procedure is both time-consuming as
well as expensive. Hence, there is need to have simple, inexpensive and speedy
provisions to claim maintenance for parents.
2. The Bill proposes to cast an obligation on the persons who inherit the property of their
aged relatives to maintain such aged relatives and also proposes to make provisions for
setting up oldage homes for providing maintenance to the indigent older persons.
The Bill further proposes to provide better medical facilities to the senior citizens and
provisions for protection of their life and property.
3. The Bill, therefore, proposes to provide for:-
(a) appropriate mechanism to be set up to provide need-based maintenance to the
parents and senior citizens
(b) providing better medical facilities to senior citizens
(c) for institutionalization of a suitable mechanism for protection of life and property
of older persons.
(d) setting up of oldage homes in every district.
4. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.voice4india.wordpress.com

REAL LIFE CASES

Given below are some real life cases of Elder Abuse in India. These cases though
are only a tip of the iceberg !
Each case is a story of abandonment, harassment and torture. Each case reveals glaring
violations of HUMAN RIGHTS of the old and the infirm. Each case shows how one’s
own children can commit such INHUMAN Acts.
Though Elder Abuse can have perpetrators outside one’s own family too… but then the
majority of cases happen when the elderly people’s own family is not treating them well.
(A) Old Mothers are abandoned
Widowed elderly women who are dependent on their children are badly treated by
them. In majority of cases the perpetrators think that by abandoning them on streets they
would be able to rid themselves of their responsibility

Ram pyari: A 75-year-old woman was found abandoned near a bus stand in Patparganj
area in East Delhi on Sunday morning. The woman, suffering from breathing problems
and a fractured arm, lay writhing in pain on the roadside till passersby called the police.
Ram Pyaari, the victim, said that she was often beaten up and denied food by the elder of
her two sons, Govind and his wife Sonia. They are living in Trilokpuri.
Her younger son Sonu, who is unemployed, brought the elderly woman to the Patparganj
bus stand and left her there.
“Sonu told me that he is going to fetch money from Uttam Nagar. With that money he
would send me to Rajasthan where my daughter lives. I have been lying here since
morning as he has not returned,” said Ram Pyaari, crying hysterically.
After she was found lying on a roadside, Hindustan Times contacted Deputy
Commissioner of Police (East) Ajay Chaudhry whose team came to the rescue of the
woman.
Ram Pyaari said that she was being harassed continuously by her elder son, and that he
often kept denied her food and water for days.
“A few days ago Govind beat me up. He broke my right hand, I am unable to move it
now. His wife tells me that I am a burden for them since I am not earning. My health
does not allow me to work, I want to die instead of living such a humiliating life,” said
Ram Pyaari.
The elderly woman was not even able to give her address but she knew directions to her
son’s home. When a police team reached Govind’s house, here is what he had to say,
“We refuse to take care of her. When she sold the house, she did not give us any money.
She is ill and defecates in the house, I am not going to clean the mess. I have four
children. Who will take responsibility if they catch any disease from her?”
The daughter-in-law said that Ram Pyaari’s younger son Sonu should take care of her as
she had given him the money after selling the house.
“Sonu does not want to take responsibility of his mother, all this when she gave him the
money after selling the house. How can we take care of her? I only ask her to stay clean. I
have too much work and can't cook for her,” said Sonia, the daughter-in-law.
Govind agreed to keep the elderly woman in the house only after the police threatened to
slap a criminal case against him.
“We will keep an eye on Govind. If he misbehaves again, we will approach the protection
officer who takes down complaints on domestic violence. We will then take action
against him,” said DCP Ajay Chaudhry.

Chinnammal Palaniappan, who is thought to be 75, told locals who found her she was
driven miles from home in a cattle feed cart and dumped by family members.
She is in the care of local officials while they try to trace her relatives.
Tamil Nadu state Social Welfare Minister Dr Poongothai told the BBC she was
"horrified" at the news.
"Once we know who the family members are we are going to take legal action against
them," Dr Poongothai told the BBC Tamil service.
She said she believed the woman was partially deaf and had not been fed properly for
three days. "She is under the custody of the state at the moment, and she is being looked
after. The police are trying to talk to her."
'Moaning'
Locals in Erode district of the state told the AFP news agency of their horror at finding
the ill woman lying amidst rotting garbage.
"We heard some moaning from the dump yard and when we went over we were shocked
to find an old shrivelled woman lying in filth," housewife P Mohanasundari said.
She and her husband took the woman home and fed her before alerting charity workers.
"Chinnammal broke down recalling how her grandsons put her in their motorcart, which
they used for transporting cattle feed, and drove a long distance before dumping her in
garbage," Mohanasundari told AFP.
She said the grandmother had recalled how her daughter told her grandsons to leave her
far away, so she would not be able to find her way home.
"There was no anger in her, only a flood of sorrow as she begged us to take her back to
her daughter," Mohanasundari said.
'Vulnerable'
Elderly people have traditionally been looked after by their families in India, although
this is starting to change with the pressures of modern life.
Dr Poongothai conceded that social change was making old people more vulnerable.
But she said the law was clear and if children did not take responsibility for looking after
their old parents they could be in breach of the domestic violence act and prosecuted.

False criminal charges are filed to torture the Old

This is another way of harassing the elderlies in India. An abuser of law would
find it pretty easy to crucify old people at home by taking undue refuge in law in the
guise of ’seeking protection’.
False ‘Dowry harassment’ charges to torture in-laws: This seems to be the easiest way to
harass old people in India (despite what Amnesty International prefers to believe).
False bogus dowry harassment charges are filed by miscreants without any fear
whatsoever.
And why no fear ?
Because there are absolutely no penalties for filing false dowry harassment charges in
India ! And also because a mere complaint is enough to arrest without investigation (the
offence is cognizable) and what when the fabricators of ‘false dowry harassment charges’
themselves are perpetrators of Elder Abuse in family ?
Or do the government or women NGOs prefer to believe that even in genuine cases
of dowry harassment it is OK if Elder Abuse is committed in one’s defense ???
Infact both Judiciary and Police are aware of such malpractices. Even the legislators are
aware of rampant misuse of anti-Dowry Laws but they fear speaking openly about them.

B) Old Fathers are Abandoned


Paritosh Chowdhury, 69, a resident of AJC Bose Road in the Thakurpukur
police station area, was being harassed by his younger son since 2002. Shankar had been
demanding his rights over the first floor. When Chowdhury refused, he along with his
wife Nihar Kana and other family members were assaulted and forced to leave the house.
Chowdhury’s wife is a cancer patient.
In his petition, made through advocate Sonali Dey, Chowdhury alleged that Shankar had
sought the help of local miscreants to get the family evicted from the house. Shankar is a
member of a political party.
Shankar had the backing of his wife Ujjala and his fatherin-law who is a state police
officer. Ujjala had even filed a complaint under Section 498 of the IPC alleging
harassment.
Whenever the senior Chowdhurys complained to the local police station. their grievances
fell on deaf ears. The police would threaten to book the Chowdhurys for harassing their
daughter-inlaw.
According to the petitioner, the physical attacks began in 2003. Chowdhury was beaten
up last May and had to be treated at the Vidyasagar Hospital in Behala.
In June, Shankar cut off water supply to the portion of the house occupied by his
parents and elder brother Shibu. While other family members shifted to a rented house,
Chowdhury stayed on, but continued to bear the brunt of the torture.
Shibu, a lower-division clerk at the police hospital, finally wrote to the commissioner of
police, seeking redressal.
The CP forwarded the letter to the superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas. In spite
of this, the police did not take any action against Shankar. Advocates Abhra Mukherjee
and Abha Roy appeared on behalf of the state government.