Law & Matrimony — Rights of Senior Citizens
Senior Citizens Day — Monday, August 21, 2017
We celebrated, Mother’s Day on the second Sunday, the 14th of May; Father’s Day on the third Sunday, the 18th of June; and Parents’ Day on the fourth Sunday, the 23rd of July.
Parents play a vital role in the lives of children. From the day we are born, parents are our protectors, teachers, mentors, well-wishers, providers and role models. So show a little extra love to your parents, especially if they are aged, for their unconditional love and the hard work they employed to brought up their children! And, its a time to celebrate the family values.
It follows that in August we can bring all our aged parents together, and show them some appreciation all at once. Now it’s time to honor both as they grow old!
Every year, the 21st of August is observed as Senior Citizens Day across the world, including India.
The day is an opportunity to acknowledge the significant contribution, sacrifices, and dedication of elder persons, and to ensure that we are doing our best to give something back to older men and women.
GoldenTwine Informatics wishes you
Happy Senior Citizens Day of India 2017
GoldenTwine Informatics honors senior citizens all across the world on Senior Citizens Day.
Senior Citizens Day — August 21, 2017
As we go about in life, being completely preoccupied with everything it has to offer, we often fail to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices made by our parents.
HelpAge India Report on Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, abuse of the elderly is not so uncommon in India. The following stirring accounts, published in a report by HelpAge India, an organisation that works for the welfare of senior citizens, is reflective of a larger and deeper problem that senior citizens in the country face today – elder abuse.
Our attitude towards senior citizens in India is sad to the point being almost hilarious. It’s amusing on how we stay detached and take a distant view of our seniors as if it’s a phase that we will never reach! We are so consumed in our daily lives that other than vaguely acknowledging them once in a while, we rarely try to emotionally connect. If there is one thing every senior citizen, man or woman, craves for its emotional connect. All they expect from the current generation is a little love and attention and they would gladly and graciously ride into the sunset of their lives.
But then the reality is harsh. Don’t we hear stories almost daily on how an ageing mother, a father and sometimes both have been abandoned by their son or daughter and left to fend for themselves? So what’s ailing our society? What’s making us so hard and materialistic that we tend to ignore the very people who spent sleepless nights when we were ill as children? Remember, how they spent all their earnings and time just to provide us a decent home, the best that they could afford?
Elderly in India — Ignored and Neglected
A community is known by the way it treats vulnerable sections of society such as the elderly. Traditionally, in India, it has been a part of our culture, for society and the family to take care of older persons. Senior Citizens are held in high esteem and are given priority and respect in all matters.
The number of Senior Citizens in the country has been steadily growing. In percentage terms, their population is projected to rise to about 12.4 per cent in 2026, doubling from 76.6 million in 2006 to 173.1 million in 2026.
There are over 100 million senior citizens, individuals over the age of 60, in India. A 2014 survey conducted by HelpAge India found that 50% of the elderly surveyed, including 48% men and 52% women, reported suffering abuse.
Senior citizens feel neglected. Cases of elderly neglect, abandonment and abuse are rampant across the country, most of which go unreported as a result of poor social and community support systems.
The sad truth is that the highest perils of brutal and persistent violence lurk within the intimate spaces of our homes, from those to whom we are closest. The main abusers, it found, were daughters-in-law, followed by sons and daughters. The reasons for abuse were mostly emotional and economic dependence of the victims on the abusers. Aged people who have outlived their spouse or are separated bear the brunt and face loneliness and marginalization in their old age.
The frailty of old age combined with health problems, crimes by anti social elements and insufficient income has left them with a feeling of rising insecurity. Children, being busy with their new lives, are unable to visit regularly. Parents have to cope single handedly, which is quite difficult considering their limited earnings.
Senior citizens feel that they are increasingly compelled to live lonely lives. Either their children turn a deaf ear to their presence at home or they are left to fend for themselves. The very act of leaving a parent to fend for themselves constitutes neglect.
Do you agree that neglect is an important constituent of abuse? While most youngsters feel that an intentional attempt to inflict physical or emotional distress to elders amounts to abuse, the elderly are of the opinion that neglect too constitutes ‘abuse’. Most of the cases are found in urban areas in India where people don’t have time to care for the elders.
Many senior citizens though worked hard all their life yet may not have been able to make wealth or buy property. They failed to save enough even for their old age. They are dependent on sons and daughters for food, medical aid, basic necessities, and of course shelter. But they feel neglected by their very own. Many elders who in their youth left home for greener pasture find themselves robbed of their own family by foster parents. Often such foster parents become emotional blackmailers, especially if they own property and prosperity.
UN Principles of Ageing (1982)
The document ‘UN Principles of Ageing’ (1982) is considered the basic guideline for promotion of the rights of senior citizens.
The five principles are:
Older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help. Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities.
Older Persons should remain integrated in society and participate actively in the formulation of policies which effect their well-being.
Older Persons should have access to health care to help them maintain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Older Persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential and have access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.
Older Persons should be able to live in dignity and security and should be free from exploitation and mental and physical abuse.
Rights Being a Senior Citizen
Though the government of India provides various concessions and facilities to its senior citizens, there is no monitoring of whether the schemes are being completed. Moreover, many parents don’t want to complain about their children as their love is unpolluted and heart still bleeds for the welfare of their kids who are now grown up and run their own famly. Plus, it projects the family in a bad light. They think it is a natural part of growing old.
Here is a list of facilities and rights given to the senior citizen by the government.
Many government and private hospitals provide concessions to the older persons in the treatment of the diseases like cardiac problems, diabetes, kidney problems, blood pressure, joint problems and eye problems. There is also a condition for separate queuing of reservations for hospital beds.
Indian railways give 30% concessions in the ticket prices to all the persons aged 60 years and above. It is 50% for women aged over 60 years. Proof of age is required. There are also conditions of lower berth for older persons and also separate counters for booking and cancelling tickets to avoid rushes at the counters. Indian airlines provide 50% concessions in its economy class, (with particular terms and conditions applied). Air India provides 45% concessions to older persons in wheel chairs and are allowed to board the plane first.
The Indian government provides housing facilities such as retirement homes and recreational or educational centers. These centers provide older persons with opportunities to spend their free time doing various activities. Most recreational centers have fitness clubs, yoga centers, parks, spiritual sessions, picnics, food fests for the health and entertainment of senior citizens. Some old age homes also have libraries other activities such as music classes, arts and crafts, quizzes and indoor games. These activities help to spiritually uplift seniors and can contribute to overall health improvements and mental stability.
Indian government gives high rate of interest to its senior citizen on certain saving scheme which are run by the post offices and other private bank.
Some bank like State Bank of India charge only 50% of the applicable prescribed charges on the service like issue of duplicate pass book, issue of duplicate bank statement, stop payments instructions, issue of cheque book, etc.
Minimum balance requirement for these class of customer is also 50% from others.
Elder Law in India
The legal right to claim maintenance is given under personal laws, Code of Criminal Procedure and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. There are certain provisions relating to concessions under Income Tax Act from which senior citizens are benefitted.
The rights of older persons are the entitlements and independence claimed for senior citizens (ie, above 60 years of age). Elderly rights are one of the fundamental rights of India.
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Under Section 20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 parents are entitled to claim maintenance from their son as well as their daughter if they are unable to maintain themselves. This right extends to both natural and adoptive parents. However step parents having their own children cannot claim maintenance from their step-children.
Muslim Personal Law
Under the Muslim personal law, both son and daughter are bound to maintain their parents who are poor if they have means to do so. Since the concept of adoption does not exist in the muslim community, the personal law is silent on the right to maintenance of adoptive parents.
Christian and Parsi Law
No provisions for maintenance are mentioned under Christian and Parsi personal laws regarding parents. The Christian and Parsi parents who wish to seek maintenance from their children need to claim it under Code of Criminal Procedure.
Code of Criminal Procedure
Parents irrespective of the community they belong to can claim maintenance from their children (son and daughter including married daughter) under section 125 of CrPC. The children must have sufficient means to maintain their parents and the parents must lack means to maintain themselves.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
Abused, abandoned, neglected: A law protects senior citizens in India, but not many know of it.
This Act provides in-expensive and speedy procedure to claim monthly maintenance for parents and senior citizens. This Act casts obligations on children to maintain their parents/grandparents and also the relative of the senior citizen to maintain such senior citizens.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act was passed in 2007 to enable senior citizens abandoned by their children to claim maintenance.
The Act states that parents and grandparents who are unable to maintain themselves from their own earning can seek maintenance from their children.
The Act aims at providing maintenance to senior citizens in order to prevent their destitution. It also seeks to protect the life and property of the senior citizens. It envisages setting up Old Age Homes in every district. The definition of maintenance covers basic necessities of life. This Act applies to all the citizens of India, who have crossed the age of 60 years. Some of the important provisions of the Act are discussed herein.
A childless senior citizen can claim maintenance from any relative who possess his property or who would inherit it.
The state government is directed to constitute a tribunal which would hear the cases regarding maintenance.
The maximum maintenance allowance is to be specified by the state government which should not exceed 10,000 per month.
Maintenance includes provisions for food, clothing, residence, and medical attendance and treatment.
There is the provision of imprisonment if a person defaults in the payment of maintenance as per the order of the tribunal.
The appeal against the order of the tribunal can be made to the appellate tribunal within a period of 60 days.
The tribunal may conduct a summary.
The parties cannot engage a legal practitioner for the proceedings to cut the cost of the proceedings.
The Act provides for establishment of at least one old-age home in each district with a capacity to shelter 150 senior citizens.
A senior citizen can also cancel the transfer of his property by will or gift by applying to the tribunal.
A significant provision in the Act deals with the Transfer of Property, which can be made void under certain circumstances – like if children/relatives refuse to provide elders with basic amenities and physical needs.
The Act prescribes punishment for the abandonment of parents or senior citizens by a person who is liable to take care of them.
According to this section, any person who abandons a senior citizen they’re responsible for can be jailed for up to 3 months, and/or be made to pay a fine of up to five thousand rupee.
The first case under the act was filed in November 2011 by Siluvai (age 84) and his wife Arulammal (age 80) of Tuticorin against their son and daughter-in-law for neglect, besides taking away their two homes and gold jewellery.