This article on ‘Legal Rights of Senior Citizens’ was written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
In this article, we will be focusing on the legal rights of senior citizens in our country and we will also discuss in brief every aspect related to the legislation made for senior citizens.
The article will provide some statistics about research conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding the population of senior citizens in the world and before concluding this article, we will take a look at the major changes made to the Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 by the amendment of 2019 for the protection of the legal rights of senior citizens.
Who can be referred to as ‘Senior Citizens’?
According to The Income Tax Act, a person who is 60 years or more in terms of age but below the age of 80 years is considered a senior citizen and the people above 80 years are referred to as ‘super senior citizens’.
Basic Statistics regarding Senior Citizens
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have released data predicting the future population of senior citizens which says that, the world will cross the two billion mark by 2050. The UNESCO estimated 590 million population in the year 2005 which was close as compared to real data.
According to the survey of 2001, India has 8% senior citizens from its overall population i.e., 7.2 crores at that time. But, the latest research shows that it will increase to 18% by 2025.
Legislative provision regarding the legal rights of senior citizens and their maintenance
Provisions in Indian Constitution
Provisions have been made in the Indian constitution for protecting the legal rights of senior citizens in Chapter 4 which deals with the Directive Principle of State Policies.
- Article 41 secures the legal rights of senior citizens (persons aged above 60) regarding employment, public assistance, and education. It also ensures that the state must look upon the cases of old age, disability and sickness.
- Article 46 defines the economic and educational legal rights of senior citizens which must be protected by the state.
Although the Indian Constitution has provided certain articles for the benefit of senior citizens; one must not forget that directive principles cannot be enforced in a court of law.
Maintenance under Muslim Law
As far as Muslim Law is concerned regarding maintenance, it can be clearly traced from the word of Mulla. According to Mulla:
- Children must provide basic necessities to their poor parents although later they might be able to earn for themselves.
- A son has a duty to maintain his mother. In this case, the mother is not in a position to maintain herself.
- A son who is poor and earning less has also the duty to maintain his parents who earn nothing.
According to Tyabji, grandparents and parents in any condition are entitled to receive maintenance from their grandchildren and children. Such kinds of words can also be traced under Hanafi Law.
Both daughters and sons have a duty to maintain their aged parents under Muslim Law. However, the obligation depends on circumstances and means available to fulfil the need.
Maintenance under Hindu Law
The obligation of a Hindu son to maintain his aged parents can be traced even in early texts. The provision regarding the maintenance of parents is made under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act which imposes the duty on the child to maintain his parents. The obligations under this section are not limited to the son, it also includes the daughter to contribute to the maintenance of her parents. It is essential to note that, parents who are not financially stable can only demand maintenance under this section.
Maintenance under the Criminal Procedural Code
Section 125 of the Criminal Procedural Code provides the right to maintenance. It directs the son as well as the daughter (including the married daughter) to provide maintenance to their aged parents. The fact to be noted is that Cr.P.C is a secular code, and it does not differentiate in terms of religion for conducting this procedure.
However, The Criminal Procedural Code is not the proper Act regarding the provision of maintenance of senior citizens. There are certain difficulties in considering of amount to be granted after the proceedings. One may get benefit if he applies the matter in Civil Court.
Protection by Government
- The government of India started the National Policy for Older Persons on 13th January 1999 for providing certain essential functions which are beneficial to senior citizens. The steps taken under this policy includes the construction of daycare centres and old age home in every 34 districts, concessions on rail/airfares (30% concession on rail fare and 50% discount on Indian Airlines) for travelling, creation of pension funds for future securities of senior citizens and creation of re-employment bureaus and resource centre, especially for people above 60.
- Many schemes created by Life Insurance Corporation such as Senior Citizen Unit Yojana, Jeevan Akshay Yojana, Jeevan Dhara Yojana, Medical Insurance Yojana and etc. are created for the benefit of senior citizens.
- Atal Bihari Bajpai, former prime minister of India launched the AnnaPurana Yojana which gives 10 kg of food to senior citizens every month.
- According to Section 88B, 88D and 88DB of the Income Tax Act, an elderly person can get discounts on taxes.
The welfare of Parents and Maintenance Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019
The bill was introduced in December 2019 at Lok Sabha to amend the main legislation created in the year 2007. The notable changes made via amendment are as follows:
The original act defined maintenance as limited to clothing, food, medical attendance, residence and treatment and the latest amendment increased the scope by including safety, healthcare and security of senior citizens.
The act created in 2007 provides the provision guiding states to create Maintenance Tribunals and decide on monthly maintenance which should not be less than 10000 rupees per month. But the latest amendment guides the Maintenance Tribunal to look at the income of the parties before fixing the amount of maintenance.
Abuse of Senior Citizens
In the original act, there was no provision regarding the punishment for abuse of senior citizens but the latest amendment provides the provision for punishment which can be imprisonment for three to six months, a fine up to rupees 10000 or both.
Abandonment of Senior Citizens or Parents
The original act provided punishment of imprisonment up to 3 months, fine up to 5000 or both regarding abandonment of senior citizens or parents but the latest amendment extends the punishment which is imprisonment extended up to 6 months, fine up to 10000 rupees or both.
The latest amendment of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens has also made changes in the concept of Welfare, Appeal, Maintenance officer, Care Home, Home Care Services, Police Protection and etc. which shows that legislation has a concern regarding senior citizens.
Senior citizens are people above the age of 60. At this critical point in their life, their own children are harassing them. Most senior citizens are unaware of their rights. The main motive of this article is to reach out to the majority of senior citizens and make them aware of their own rights provided by the legislation. The legislation effectively creates various policies which are proving beneficial to senior citizens such as constructing old age homes, providing concessions on fares and etc. we all must appreciate the legislature for such effective legislation.
Abandoning and abusing parents is illegal as well as morally wrong and punishment of imprisonment, as well as fine, are provided in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parent and Senior Citizens Act.
- Article published on the official site of ‘Mirrors Now Digital’, “Laws protecting rights and interest of senior citizens in India; All you Need to Know”, referred from – https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/society/article/laws-protecting-rights-interests-senior-citizens-elderly-aged-india/241097 / https://www.timesnownews.com/
- Article published by Dilip Deshmukh, “Legal rights of Senior Citizens in India”, referred from – http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/2054/Laws-for-Senior-citizens-in-India.html / https://www.legalservicesindia.com/
- Article published on the official site of www.firstpost.com, “What is Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019”, referred from – https://www.firstpost.com/india/how-indias-new-bill-on-welfare-of-parents-senior-citizens-will-motivate-younger-generation-to-care-for-elderlies-9827571.html / https://www.firstpost.com/
- Article published on www.incometax.gov.in, “Senior Citizens and Senior Super Citizens for AY 2022-2023”, referred from – https://www.incometax.gov.in/iec/foportal/help/individual/return-applicable-2#:~:text=An%20individual%20resident%20who%20is,time%20during%20the%20previous%20year / https://www.incometax.gov.in/