January 7, 2010

INDIA: Rules to protect elders notified

. CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu / The Times of India / January 7, 2010 By Ajitha Karthikeyan, Times News Network Moving a step ahead in geriatric care, the state government has notified rules for the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, becoming the ninth state in the country to enforce the Central legislation. As per the rules framed by the state, those who neglect their aged parents or fail to provide for their upkeep will have to face imprisonment up to three months or a penalty of Rs 5,000 or both. Though the Act, aimed at addressing the disturbing trend of children abandoning their parents and providing a speedy and inexpensive legal framework to grant maintenance to senior citizens, was notified in the state gazette in September 2008, it had taken more than a year for the rules to be framed and notified. The law says children — the term includes son, daughter, grandson and grand-daughter who are not minors — are liable to provide maintenance to their parents, both biological and adoptive. Maintenance is d defined as providing for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment. While welcoming the government’s move, Savithri Vaithi, founder, Vishranthi Charitable Trust which takes care of abandoned senior citizens, said officials should have consulted people who were working in the field of geriatric care before framing rules in order to make the Act successful. “Though the legislation may act as a deterrent, a lot of socio-psychological issues are also involved as no parent will come forward to complain against their wards. It may also induce bitterness in the relationship between parents and their children,” she said and added that while the children should realise that parents are important in their lives, the elderly people should also adjust themselves to the environment of modern times. File photo courtesy: The Hindu Officials said a tribunal would be constituted at every division level. While the RDO would be the presiding officer, the district social welfare officer would be the conciliation officer. Complaints received by the tribunal would be forwarded to the conciliation officer who would inquire and submit a report in a month. The tribunal would pass an order within 90 days of receiving the complaint. A maintenance allowance, up to Rs 10,000 based on the individual’s income, can be awarded. [rc] Copyright © 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.