Author- Gauri Dharne
LLB, Third Year
Anand Vishwa Gurukul College of Law, Thane
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 , introduced to further amend the Act which was introduced on 20th March, 2007.Earler there was no separate specific act for parents and senior citizens, although there were some laws for elders in Indian penal code 1872, criminal procedure code 1973 etc. The Act now extends to whole India . Bill has widened its Scope, Purpose and Subject of act by giving importance not only to provisions for Maintenance but also ensuring their overall physical and mental well-being, establishment, management and regulation of institutions for senior citizens and services therefore and for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 11, 2019 and has been referred to Standing Committee. In the definitions part bill has amended some definitions and also it has inserted some new definitions, for e.g. - the Bill amends definition of children by adding biological, adoptive or step-child and includes his son-in-law, daughter-in-law and the legal guardian of minor children. Definition of maintenance has been amended to include housing, safety and security, treatment necessary to lead a life of dignity. Parent definition has been expanded by adding father-in-law, mother-in-law and grandparents. For relative who is childless senior citizen, Bill has substituted legal heir of that relative who is not minor to minor represented by their legal guardian. The Bill has inserted some new definitions of conciliation officer, local body, nodal officer for senior citizens, senior citizens care home.
Application for Maintenance shall be done by parents or senior citizens. This application is done in case they are unable to maintain themselves by their own money and neglected by their children or relatives to lead a life of dignity. Thus Application is made to Tribunal in person or by registered post or online and if incapable to do so then any other person or organization is authorized to do on their behalf. Tribunal can direct to pay Interim Maintenance during pendency of proceeding to parents or senior citizens. The Tribunal while giving order of Maintenance and after being sure of refusal or neglect by children or relatives towards their parents or senior citizens the Bill has removed the maximum maintenance amount of Ten Thousand Rupees per month and stated that while determining the maintenance Tribunal may take into consideration the standard of living of the parent or senior citizen and the earnings of such parent or senior citizen and of the children or relative. Bill has inserted provision for failure to comply with provision for order of maintenance the tribunal will issue warrant for every breach to pay the due amount, also failure to pay fine will amount to imprisonment maximum up to one month or until payment , whichever is earlier. Even the copy of order for maintenance is made available free of cost. The Bill has stated for payment of amount in terms of order given by Tribunal, amount shall be deposited within fifteen days of date of announcing the order thus it has reduced the Fifteen days from the Act. The bill along with senior citizens or parents gives now permission or allows children or relatives to make an appeal to Appellate Tribunal.
Maintenance Officer was designated by State Government in Act, to represent during proceedings, initially in Act it was for only parent but now the Bill has amended to add senior citizen. Also the Bill has inserted a duty on Maintenance Officer to comply with order and to take necessary steps in case of non compliance. Establishment of Old age Homes which was given under Act has been removed by Bill, 2019 and it has substituted by senior citizens care home and multi-service day care centers. These institutions must be registered, shall provide necessary amenities also shall adhere to minimum standards for food, infrastructure, medical facilities, recreation, staff, safety and security and such other matters. Regarding Healthcare the bill has introduced private healthcare institutions to senior citizens as in the Act only Government hospitals or partially or fully funded government hospitals were there in addition to that homecare facility is also being introduced due to any impairment. Bill has inserted a new section of action plan for welfare of senior citizens protecting their life and property, earlier in Act there was no provision regardingly. The Bill has for protecting the rights of and to deal with issues of senior citizens and parents has designated in every police station officer below rank of Assistant Sub-Inspector known as nodal officer, also a special police unit to function with police has been appointed by state government.
The Bill has some welfare facilities provided to senior citizens for sixty years and above people, thus adding more friendly nature and care towards seniors. Bill has increased punishment for abusing and abandoning by minimum three months and maximum to six months and fine up to ten thousand rupees, thus making more stringent law than in the Act. The Bill has for welfare and to make it easily accessible has obliged state government to provide details of institutions like senior citizens care homes and multi-service day care centers also homecare services which are mentioned in Bill on the website of concerned department of state.
The first case under maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens Act, 2007 was filed in Tuticorin by Siluvai (84) of surveyor Pitchai Street living with his wife Arulammal (80) against their son and daughter-in-law after neglecting his parents after taking away 2 homes and gold jewelry.
Advantages of this Amended Bill, 2019
· In one case Rajasthan High Court has ordered that mother-in-law not eligible for maintenance of daughter-in-law under provision Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, the court said that as per section 4(1) of Act only parents and grandparents can be maintained against one or more children and hence daughter-in-law not considered as children.
Thus, the Bill has expanded its scope as per the change in society, including son-in-law and daughter-in-law responsible in definition of children.
· It has given different criteria for disposal of application for senior citizens who are eighty years and above, which shows the importance and care towards them.
· Institutions have been established under the Bill who tends to provide facilities.
· This bill focuses more welfare and protection of senior citizens.
· An officer is specially designated known as ‘Nodal Officer’ for dealing with issues relating to senior citizens and parents. Thus by ensuring more rights and speedy solution for seniors.
Disadvantage of Bill
· The Bill has removed upper limit for maintenance amount of Rs.10, 000 per month and by considering 2 factors: - a. standard of living and earning of senior citizen or parent
b. earning of children.
Thus, the tribunal has its own discretion, perspective and expertise to decide the amount.
· The word ‘Dignity Life’ has not been expressed in Bill so it is vague.
· Now that the Bill has amended some strict rules it is the duty of senior citizen to use this law wisely and not to misuse these as there are cases where some senior citizens or parents make use of such acts for vicious motive.
· The Bill/Act should not be use as shield by senior citizens or parents to settle their personal scores.
Considering India’s population and its rapidly growing concerns of seniors and parents and also to meet the needs from time to time it is necessary to amend the old act and take present scenario in consideration and give solutions accordingly.
 The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, No.374, 2019 (India).  The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, No 32, Act of Parliament, 2019 (India).  Mother-in-law is not eligible for maintenance for maintenance from daughter-in-law, TOI, Nov 2017, 21.