Senior citizens can now reclaim ‘gifted’ property from children

An aggrieved elderly can approach the Deputy Commissioner and reclaim his property if their welfare and basic needs are not being looked after

Written by Shishir Tripathi | Chandigarh | Published: September 11, 2013 1:11:23 am

There is good news for those senior citizens who have been left in the lurch by their children at the dusk of their lives. For,now senior citizens can reclaim the property they ‘gifted’ or transferred in the name of their children if their welfare and basic needs are not being looked after.

All this without any delay. Rather than paying futile visits to the Court and awaiting outcome for several years,an aggrieved senior citizen can now approach the Deputy Commissioner and reclaim his property. And if a senior citizen is incapable to approach the Deputy Commissioner,any social organisation can do so on his behalf.

This is the unique benefit offered in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act,2007 which was finally notified by the Chandigarh Administration last month. All properties which stand ‘gifted’ or transferred by the senior citizens in the name of their children after the year 2007 can now be reclaimed by them.

Till now,the only legal remedy available with aggrieved elderly was to approach a Court and claim maintenance on account of the properties given by them. After transfer,children are the ‘absolute owners’ of the properties and senior citizens did not have the right to reclaim them. But now with the notification of the said Act,the children will no more remain absolute owners.

As an alternative,they can also claim maintenance on the properties they had transferred in the name of their kids. The Act has two major benefits for the elderly. First,they can get the property reserved and secondly,the entire exercise of reclaiming the property will not take long. For,the Act stipulates the Deputy Commissioner to decide such cases ‘expeditiously’.

As per the Act,a Deputy Commissioner has been designated as the appropriate authority to address and redress complaints and grievances of the senior citizens. All the senior citizens will have to submit is that their basic needs are not being looked after by their children. By producing relevant documents of the property they had transferred or gifted to their children,after 2007,the senior citizens can get the transfer declared void and claim back their properties.

This benefit will apply to only those properties which were gifted or given to children after the year 2007. For,the Act came into force in 2007. However,Chandigarh Administration took six years to notify that it will be the Deputy Commissioner who will be empowered to decide such cases. The Act was notified in 2009.

Section 23 of the Act reads,“Where any senior citizen who,after the commencement of this Act,has transferred by way of gift or otherwise,his property,subject to the condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and basic physical needs to the transferor and such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs,the said transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence and shall at the option of the transferor be declared void by the Tribunal.”

The sub section reads,“Where any senior citizen has a right to receive maintenance out of an estate and such estate or part thereof is transferred,the right to receive maintenance may be enforced against the transferee if the transferee has notice of the right,or if the transfer is gratuitous,but not against the transferee for consideration and without notice of right.”

This means that if a senior citizen decides not to reclaim the property,he can make his children direct through the Deputy Commissioner to pay them monthly maintenance of the property.

20 complaints received under Welfare of Parents Act since ’09

From deciding maintenance to ordering medical aid for senior citizens,the Tribunals set up by the Chandigarh Administration for redressal of grievances of the elderly received 20 complaints ever since their inception.

Set up in 2009,the Tribunal has addressed and redressed complaints and grievances of senior citizens. Three Maintenance Tribunals headed by Sub Divisional Magistrates were created by the Administration in 2009,the year the Chandigarh Administration notified the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act,2007.

An aggrieved senior citizen can approach the office of SDMs (East,South and Central) and register his complaint. Of the 20 complaints received so far,the SDMs have provided relief in eight cases while two were withdrawn. Others are pending adjudication. Dissatisfied with the order of the SDMs,two appeals have been filed which will be decided by the appeallate authority,Deputy Commissioner in this case.

Relief provided ranges from directing maintenance allowance of Rs 2,000 per month to the ageing parents to directing son of an elderly to bear the expense of treatment of applicant’s ears.

While Sub Division (South) has received seven complaints since August 2009 to May 2013 ,Sub Division (East) has received 12 complaints since April 2009 to July 2013. However,Sub Division (Central) has not received any complaint so far. In most of the cases request has been made by the parents demanding maintenance allowance from their children.

The relief can be sought by parents and elderly citizens under Section 4 of Maintenance and welfare of senior citizens act 2007.

“We have designated officers for taking up the requests by the senior citizens and address their grievances. We are ensuring that cases are decided in two or three sittings. We are also trying to ensure maximum relief and benefits to the applicants,” said Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Shayin.

Commenting upon the need of such tribunals and rising trend of parents being abandoned by their children,Rajesh Gill,Professor,Department of Sociology,Panjab University,said,“I think there should be a proper legal mechanism to make sure that welfare of senior citizens is ensured and that they are not harassed.”

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