The Delhi High Court has upheld the power of the district administration to evict children who do not maintain their parents/senior citizens, observing that “ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection of older persons”.
The HC’s ruling came while dismissing a plea by two minors, filed through their mother, who had sought to quash Rules 22(3) and 22(4) of the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2016, for being ultra-vires the parent Act — Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 — and the Constitution.
The plea challenged the legal validity of a Rule in the Act, wherein the district magistrate or deputy commissioner, after verifying the title deeds, could evict any person on the allegation by a senior citizen that she/he has been ill-treated and abused. They have claimed that the property was part of the ‘Hindu Undivided Family’ and the children or their parents could not be removed by the grandparents.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao, however, said: “We must bear in mind the objective for which the Parliament has enacted the Act… as because of withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderly are not being looked after by their family.”
“Consequently, many older persons, particularly widowed women, are forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect and lack of physical and financial support, which clearly reveals that ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection of older persons.
“Though parents can claim maintenance under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the procedure is both time consuming as well as expensive. Hence, a need was felt to have a simple, inexpensive and speedy mechanism for parents/senior citizens to claim maintenance,” it noted in its 52-page verdict.
The bench further noted that the “Act also provides for protection of life and property of senior citizens/parents. The ‘protection of property’ must be understood to mean where a senior citizen retains the property in his name and possession for his welfare and well being”.
The impugned Rules stipulate a summary procedure empowering the district magistrate to effect the eviction of a senior citizen’s son/daughter/legal heir from his self-acquired property on account of his non-maintenance and ill-treatment.
Taking into account the contention of the minors, the bench referred to its 2017 judgment in which it had held that the Maintenance Tribunal can order eviction of children if they deliberately neglect parents.