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This article was written by  Apurva Mittal a student of Jindal Global Law School.


The plodding cracks in the traditional support systems have shifted the welfare and responsibility of the aged in the major agendas of the State. As a consequence of breaking down of the joint families into nuclear, the elders are now exposed to emotional neglect and a constant lack of physical and financial support. This also leads to a constant fear of social society. Keeping in view all of these elements and to ensure that children fulfill their moral obligations towards their seniors, a recent initiative has been taken- Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 has been brought into effect. This act aims at providing a legal right of “care” to be taken of the neglected elderly.

The Act ensures a dignified life for a section of the society (parents and other elderly citizens) in the face of mounting accounts of abandonment and abuse at the hands of their children and relatives. It not only essentially makes neglect a punishable offence but addresses a more important issue of insecurity through a provision of “maintenance” from those on whom they depend.

Significant provisions of the Act:

The Maintenance and Welfare act applies to senior citizens (above the age of 60), including parents (age bar does not apply), grandparents or a childless senior citizen (against the legal heir) for not maintaining them, except from a minor child (Section 4(1)(i), Maintenance and Welfare Act). If a complaint is found admissible, then a maintenance allowance is resolute not above 10000 rupees a month (Section 9(2)). There is also a provision ofholding a transfer of property void if done in lieu of providing basic amenities by proving either fraud or coercion. There is also an endowment of conciliation before the maintenance proceedings start.

The Act is an embodiment and reflection of strong Indian traditional and ethical values of children towards their parents. It is uniformly applicable in all the states of India except Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh as Himachal Pradesh has its own Act. To redress the complaints of parents and senior citizens, the Act paves for a constitution of the Tribunal which is presided over by an officer not lower than a Sub-Divisional Officer of the State (Section 7(1) and (2)). Tribunal may for the purpose of adjudicating and coming up for a decision, choose one or more persons possessing special or the required knowledge regarding some matter in the enquiry. Also, the Tribunal may refer to the Conciliation Officer before arriving at a cordial pronouncement.

The significant reason for nervousness in maturity is falling apart of wellbeing condition combined with diminishing monetary potential. Therefore, procurements to give better medical aid have been incorporated in the Act. It expresses that the State is responsible for making sure that the Government hospitals have adequate number of beds, queues, medicines and research activities for generic chronic diseases.

The one among the very first cases to be reported under the Act was in 2011 in Tuticorin by Siluvai (aged 84) and his wife Arulammal (aged 80) against their son and the daughter-in-law for neglect along with taking away their two homes and the gold jewellery. The Court here made it is clear that it is a legal obligation of the children to maintain their parents and provide maintenance of maximum ten thousand rupees.

Comparative analysis:

If a qualified scrutiny of the Maintenance Act and the improvisations of prevailing laws are shepherded, a significant difference can be observed. Under Section 125 of the CrPc. or any other section of the CrPc. there is no provision for maintenance for senior citizens without children, only Magistrate orders for claims of maintenance, proceedings are not only time intense but also cumbersome. Proceedings are expensive and only affected parents can file a claim; no provision for conciliation; no time limit for disposal of the case and lack of any restrictive classification of ‘parents’ etc. are some of the major differences.

But under the Maintenance and Welfare Act a childless senior citizen gets a chance to file for maintenance, the case must be disposed within 90 days, participation of an advocate is barred, conciliation is an option, the definition the word ‘parents’ is wide enough to cover in itself even grandparents, parents who are biological, adopted, step or even relatives who inherit the property from those senior citizens. The Act also comprises for penal punishments with imprisonment not more than three months or fine or both.

Legislative loopholes:

The Legislature has taken a step forward in safeguarding certain legal right of elderly parents but there are a few grey areas in this Act which at times lead to hampering of its benefits in a negative manner. Some of the drawbacks are as follows:

  • The Directive principles (Art. 41, Constitution of India) direct the State and private citizens to take proper measures for maintaining the senior citizens. This Act shifts the onus of maintenance completely upon the children and does not talk about senior citizens without both property and child. Also, it does not take into consideration the financial position of the children. How will the Tribunal decide upon a case wherein the child is not capable of supporting himself/herself?
  • The Act provides that the parents/senior citizens must be given a ‘normal life’ where the phrase ‘normal life’ has not been defined. The maximum amount to be claimed per month is rupees 10,000 which is definitely not enough for people living in cities.
  • Omission of professional lawyers from the purview of Tribunal hearings is illogical and unreasonable.
  • Only parents may appeal against the decision of the Tribunal. Even if the child of providing whatever is possible, the threat of punishment can always be used by the parents under this Act because children cannot appeal against decisions in case they are barbaric or unjust.
  • A bigger issue is the social pressure of parents wanting to take a matter like and their children to the Tribunal.

An appraisal:

This Act makes provides for positive rights of the parents and other childless senior citizens. It is essential because it is means to speedy and inexpensive proceedings. It imposes duty on Centre and the States to work out effective strategies to ensure greater security, greater dignity, greater equality and more non-discriminatory treatment to the vulnerable sections of our population.A lot more amendments can be made in the Act and otherwise that can make it a landmark initiative for the welfare of the elderly in the Indian society.

  • The Act needs more attention to accomplish its genuine reason. Individuals are to be sharpened about elderly manhandle particularly the staff of Old Age Homes. The need is to change the outlook that sees individuals of hindrance not as a gainful national asset. In the event that we support open private association by engaging NGOs, group associations and corporate areas for this system, it will get to be sans cost and less demanding for the Government to deal with it.
  • Procurements ought to be made for monetary security by taking measures like Group Insurance and Old Age Pension at the early age. It is truly dispiriting to take note that the senior citizens are for the most part disregarded, become desolate and discover it extremely hard to squeeze out their business. Some of them figure out how to discover a spot in the seniority homes, some of them decide to ask and a large portion of them bite the dust of starvation and uncared for.
  • Elderly are represented by the congested and overloaded Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. There is need for separate proactive, vibrant, and dedicated Ministry. There is an urgent need for United Forum to fight for injustice, issues of seniors, to address the problems and work united on solution for the benefits of Elderly.
  • Act is passed by central government but still it has not been implemented by many states and also those states who have implemented the Act, the local government has not made serious effort to make Tribunals and redress the problems.
  • Childless individuals ought to be permitted to choose whom they trust as their parental figures whether they are companions or relatives. The commitments ought to be forced on such persons who beyond any doubt appropriate consideration. Adoration and fondness does not exist amongst all relatives qualifying them for legacy. Without a doubt, they should have a decision in the wake of having trudged for the duration of their lives. They need admiration, fraternity and poise.

The Centre’s Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 shows that the complexity of care for the aged needs a mix of fiscal measures for social security and healthcare, along with appropriate legislation. The new law gives this value and expectations of society a legal grounding which can be used by parents to demand care as a legal right. As a country we seem to be responding to this problem now, albeit slowly.


  • ‘Aging Parents, Home Alone’, India Today, July 16, 2007.
  • The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007 introduced in Lok Sabha on March 20, 2007.
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