Senior citizens are considered to be the citizens of India who have crossed the age of 60 years. They almost constitute around 10 percent of the population of the nation, and there have been cases reported where there has been gross violation of their human rights. There are certain set of problems which the old aged face which take the form of economic problems, as they have no or less earning at this age, psychological and physical problems, as in they become physically and mentally weak due to various health problems, and social problems, it is the lack of care towards them. India as a nation, gives a lot of importance to the senior citizens, by giving social and economical benefits, and has put forward a legislation named “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens” which has been implemented to restore the rights of these people by making it mandatory for their children to provide maintenance to them. Various situations have been reported where old age people have been abandoned by their own children, due to which their is a threat to their survival.
The main objectives of the act is to provide maintenance to the senior citizens for the purpose of their livelihood and survival. It also aims at increasing the number of old age homes at each place for the welfare of these citizens. The bill also defines the terms maintenance, senior citizen, parent and child , relative, etc under the act to give a clear view regarding these terms. The key features of the act have been discussed as follows:
- Takes care of the elderly by giving them the provision of maintenance. This act places an obligation on the children and relatives to give maintenance to the senior citizen in the form of monthly allowance, and other such necessities which are required for their survival. When the senior citizen is unable to take care of themselves and live out of the income he is receiving from his/her property , then if they apply to the maintenance tribunal, it can be received from the child or children (if more than one) who are inheriting the property given by the paren or in this case senior citizen.
- Provision for Maintenance Tribunal : As stated above, it is required for the senior citizen to apply for the tribunal in order to receive maintenance. The state government will decide upon the number of tribunals to be established to fulfill the purpose of the Act. After the tribunal looks into the matter, and review the situations, if it deems it fit the application will be granted, and the allowance shall not exceed rupess 10,000 per month. The application shall at any cause be disposed within 90 days. If the tribunal find out any misrepresentation it has the power either to cancel the allowance or alter it accordingly.
- Appeals can go to the courts which is presided by at least a District magistrate.
- It is not compulsory for a legal practitioner to represent the senior citizen, they can be represented by a social welfare officers.
- A list of offences an penalties have been clearly stated in the act. Offences like not providing with maintenance, or abandoning an old age person, then either penalties will be taken or the person will be imprisoned for a specific period of time, or even both.
- The Act has provided other provisions, like for establishing old age homes, and the rules and regulations which has to be followed by it. Ensure special medical attention to senior citizens in hospitals, and shall bring awareness in people regarding the act by various campaigns.
There are other legislations which support the idea od maintenance and taking care of senior citizens by giving them old age security and they are, Article 41 of the constitution which is a DPSP (Directive Principles of State Policy) which makes the state responsible to look after the livelihood of the old age and sick, and two act namely the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 which contain provisions to relating to the children having an obligation to look after their old age parents, by giving maintenance when they are unable to take care of themselves.
We can come to conclusion that this act makes sure that every senior citizen has livelihood, but does not consider the mental health of them of they are sent to old age homes. I personally feel that there has to be provision stating that if the children are financial stable then they should look after their parents no matter what. We have to keep one thing in mind that parents have given us a good life by giving us a good education which leads to a good future, hence, we have to take care of them in the same way they took care of us when we were growing up. This act does not entirely take into consideration of the senior citizen but has played an important role for the old person’s survival.