January 29, 2009

INDIA: Chandigarh issues social welfare notification to make elderly 'secure'

. CHANDIGARH / The Times of India / January 29, 2009 By Vibhor Mohan, Times News Network With family bonds weakening and respect for elders gradually disappearing from among the younger generation, law has come to the rescue of senior citizens. Acting on the guidelines of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, abandoning parents or childless relatives above 60 years of age has been made a punishable offence in Chandigarh, which can invite an imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of Rs 5,000. A notification to this effect has been issued by home secretary Ram Niwas, who is also the secretary, social welfare. The states of Punjab, Tripura, Maharashtra, Goa and Himachal Pradesh have already implemented the Act with retrospective effect from August 27, 2008. According to it, any senior citizen who is unable to bear the expenses of his basic needs, from his own earning or from property owned by him, will be entitled to make an application against one or more of his children or grandchildren, who are not minors. A childless senior citizen can file a case against his relatives. It further states that children are obligated to provide basic amenities like food, clothing, residence, medical attendance and treatment to their parents. More so, to ensure its effective implementation, sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) have been authorized to sit in judgment for cases from their jurisdiction, as maintenance tribunals and appeals against the orders passed by them can be made to the DC, who has been made the appellate authority. It states, ‘’If children or relatives of applicants fail to comply with the orders, the Tribunal may, for every breach of the order, issue a warrant for levying the amount due in the manner provided for levying of fines and if the maintenance remains unpaid, may imprison the accused for a term which may extend to one month.’’ The Act further reads, ‘’If children or relatives neglect or refuse to maintain a senior citizen, the Tribunal may, on being satisfied of such neglect or refusal, order such children or relatives to make a monthly allowance at a monthly rate for the maintenance of elderly, as the Tribunal may deem fit.’’ The law extends to the whole of India, except Jammu and Kashmir, and applies to all citizens outside the country. However, it will come into effect only after the government issues a gazette notification. Copyright © 2009 Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd