THE DEPUTY Commissioner’s office receives a complaint by a senior citizen every second day under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. In the last two months, the DC office has received 50 complaints in which the parents are alleging harassment and poor treatment by their children. In 2015, the DC office had received merely 60 complaints by parents against their children under this Act. The number of complaints increased to 175 in 2016. There are complaints by parents regarding ill-treatment by their sons and daughters-in-law or they complain of being deprived of their basic needs. In some cases, the parents even complain about their children abusing and shouting at them. The Senior Citizens Act was enacted in 2007 and the UT Administration had notified the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, in August 2009.
Under the ambit of this Act, any person who does not look after his or her parents, grandparents and abandons them, he or she can be punished with imprisonment up to three months. The person can also be fined Rs 5,000, imprisoned and fined both according to the Act.
SDM (South) Arjun Sharma confirms that there is a rise in complaints under the Act. “There is a sudden rise in cases in which parents seek relief under the Act or allege that their children have been ill-treating them,” he says.
Sharing one such case, Sharma says, “There is an old couple who has been residing in Chandigarh for the last 20 years. Their son was in the USA and was pursuing his MBA from a reputed university there. When he returned to stay with his parents, he found it difficult to adjust with them. So, he connived with the domestic help who was a native of Uttar Pradesh and had been working for the family for some time. He asked her to give a complaint of sexual harassment against his father. The matter is pending before us.”
Sharma claims the maid has been lying. “In one hearing, the maid said something and in the next hearing she said something else,” he added.
Also, the children who desert their parents are liable to give a maximum maintenance allowance of Rs 10,000 per month which is awarded by the SDM. The complaint can be filed with the SDM for the maintenance and the Deputy Commissioner will be an appellant authority.
The elderly can file a complaint under sections 21, 22 and 23 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, and for claiming maintenance, the case is filed before the SDM of the area concerned.
Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi says, “In most of the complaints we receive we have to give directions to the children or heirs to vacate the property while in a few cases, orders are pronounced for cancellation of sale deed and in a few cases both parties reach a compromise.”
In most of the cases, the parents want their children to vacate the house. The data available with the DC office reveals that in 50 to 60 per cent of the cases, the DC has directed the children to vacate the property.
The SHO of the area concerned is directed to ensure compliance with the orders. While in 20 per cent of the complaints, the elderly seek cancellation of the transfer deed of property. In very few cases, the elderly seek maintenance. As per the data available, only in 5 per cent cases, the parents seek maintenance which is taken up by the SDM while in the remaining cases, the families opt for a compromise.
While taking up the case of Justice Shanti Sarup Dewan, retired chief justice, who had alleged ill-treatment by his son and daughter-in-law, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the administration to formulate a comprehensive action plan to protect the elderly. The retired judge has three children: two daughters and a son. The retired judge had alleged humiliation, use of unparliamentary language and lack of all sense of decency.
In a judgment pronounced by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in September 2013, it was mentioned that the administration should take steps to bring into force proper rules under Section 32 (1) of the Act to protect life and property of senior citizens as envisaged under Section 22 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The high court had directed the administration to formulate a comprehensive action plan, including enforcement mechanism, and conferring relevant powers to the district magistrate or officers subordinate to him.