Dealing with Old age Problems: The Rights of Neglected Parents (Part1)

It is a common observation that there are many old couples around us in the society who live alone almost unattended and abandoned. It is the moral duty of children to maintain their parents. Children have no time to look after their parents, and as a consequence of this situation the elders are now exposed to emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act have been enacted to take care of this.

PERSONS WHO CAN CLAIM MAINTENANCE:-

The Act is applicable to all persons, who are unable to maintain themselves, irrespective of their religion or Caste. It applies also to those persons who are citizens of India but are residing out of India.

This certainly means that if the parents are residing in India, and the children have settled down in other parts of the world, never the less the parents would be entitled to claim maintenance from the erring children. Even if the parents have gone with the children at any different place, the Act would be equally applicable to them.

As the name suggests, the act firstly provides for the maintenance of Parents irrespective of whether they are Natural, adoptive or step mother or father. So far as the rights of father or mother to claim maintenance from their own ‘children’ is concerned, they don’t necessarily have to be senior citizens or of a particular age.

However if they want to claim maintenance from any other ‘near relative’ who is under a liability to maintain them, they have to be firstly ‘childless’ and secondly they have to be senior citizens of age sixty years and above. One more aspect which is evident is that, primarily the liability is that of the children only, it is only when there are no children the liability rests with the other near ‘relative’.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS :–

It is not that in every circumstance a father, or a mother or a senior citizen is entitled to claim maintenance. The act has provided that only those parents or senior citizens, who are unable to maintain themselves from their own earning, or out of the property owned by them, are eligible to claim maintenance under this Act.

Though in the act itself, it has not been defined that under what circumstances a person shall be taken as unable to maintain him or herself, but it has to be understood from the point of view of what has been provided for him. If one is not able to earn for himself sufficient to fulfil his requirements of food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment, he should be taken to be unable to maintain himself. Moreover the standard of these requirements should be normal one. It cannot be too low or too lavish. The normal standard of living would be that which matches the socio economic status of the parties.

PERSONS LIABLE TO PAY MAINTENANCE :–

Every major child whether he be son, daughter or grandson or granddaughter is under a liability to maintain his or her father, mother, or grandparents. The act prescribes no pre-condition of inheritance of any property to the children, therefore the liability is absolute even if the parents have left no property at all, or have deprived the particular respondent from any share in the property. He cannot take a plea that he has no sufficient means to maintain his parents, or that there are other children also who are having better economic status, or that the parents are already living with other children

LIABILITY IN CASE OF CHILDLESS SENIOR CITIZENS:–

This act has a unique feature of imposing a liability on the basis of morality and equity. This act casts a liability on ‘relative’ of a childless ‘senior citizen’ who has already received or would inherit his property, to maintain such a person. Thus a relative is now also under legal obligation to maintain a senior citizen whose property he has or he would inherit.

To be continued …

Post by- Rajeev

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