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What does the ‘Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act’ say?

Are we a society that needs the law to tell us that we need to take care of our elderly?

On account of Parents’ Day, we had shared some statistics concerning the condition of the elderly in our country. Given the plight of senior citizens in our society, the Government of India passed an act called the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in 2007. This Act exists to make sure that Indian senior citizens could live a life of dignity, which is often denied to them.

Here are a few points explaining the provisions in the Act:

Where is the Act applicable?

This Act extends to all of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also applies to citizens of India residing outside the country.

The act talks about maintenance and welfare of the elderly and also their property rights.

What does the Act state?

It is a legal obligation for children/legal heirs to provide for the maintenance of a senior citizen

Children/heirs are obligated to take of care of their elderly parents in such a way that they can lead a normal life

Any person who is in possession or stands to inherit a senior citizen’s property and has sufficient means is liable to look after and provide for the senior citizen

If a senior citizen is not able to look after himself/herself, he/she can apply to a State Tribunal requesting for a monthly allowance from their children/heir

Punishment for not paying the monthly allowance could be a fine of Rupees 5000 or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both

What are the directions to the State Governments under the Act?

It permits the State Government to set up old age homes in every district

State Governments need to set up tribunals that can decide level of maintenance

State Governments are also required to fix the monthly allowance for senior citizens. The Bill states that the maximum allowance can be Rs. 10,000 per month

Though there are rules that state that children are obligated to look after their aging parents, we still hear a lot about the elderly being abandoned with nobody to look after them. Some of these senior citizens find solace in old-age homes run on charity and some are left to the mercy of others to provide them with care. While there is a law, don’t you think each of us needs to take up the responsibility of caring for our elderly?

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