In today’s world, the one person, one loves the most, is his parents. We as Indians are always taught by our teachers in schools that our parents are our God and we should look after them when they start getting old. At this juncture, it is necessary to point out here that there is an old saying—every finger is not of the same size. With the help of this saying, we can understand that every child does not take care of his/her parents, which is not only socially but also legally wrong. Keeping the traditional norms and values of the Indian Society laid the stress of providing care for the elderly. However, due to the withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderlies are not being looked after by their family. Consequently, many older persons, particularly widowed women are now forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support. This clearly reveals that aging has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for older persons.
Though the parents can claim maintenance under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the procedure is both times consuming as well as expensive. Hence, there is a need to have simple, inexpensive and speedy provisions to claim maintenance for parents. The Bill proposes to cast an obligation on the persons, who inherit the property of children or their aged relatives to maintain such aged relatives and proposes to make provisions for setting up old age homes for providing maintenance to the indigent older persons. The Bill further proposes to provide better medical facilities to the senior citizens and provisions for the protection of their life and property. The Bill, therefore, proposes to provide for: –
- The appropriate mechanism to be set up to provide need-based maintenance to the parents and senior citizens;
- Providing better medical facilities to senior citizens;
- Fir institutionalization of a suitable mechanism for protection of life and property of older persons’d. Setting up old age homes in every district.
The Act was enacted principally to ameliorate the deprivation caused to the parents by the children. The break down in the joint family system and creation of micro families possibly have made the present generation a little selfish and self –content. Consequently, many elder persons, particularly widowed woman as noticed in the Act are exposed to neglect embodied and are requested to be provided financial and physical support. Due to the decline of the traditional norms, ethos and moral values of the Indian Society, which emphasized and recognized the necessity to respect and provide care for the elderly has sadly receded and robbed the society in recent times of such values resulted in the present legislation. The Act was enacted to provide for more effective provisions for maintenance of welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidentally thereto, Pranav Singh v. Mahendra Prasad Singh.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The initial petition was moved by 68-year-old Mohammud Aftab Khairi, father of the appellants, who is the owner of a property in Katra Deena Beg, Lal Kuan in Old Delhi which is the contiguous property. Aftab had three sons – Shahab, Shadab (appellant No.1) and Shahnawaz Khairi (appellant No.2). Aftab runs a printing press by the name of ‘Khairi Printing Press’ on the ground floor of the property in question and lives on the first floor of the property along with his ailing wife Shahina who needs constant medical attention due to her prolonged illness. The three sons occupy the second and third floor of the same property.
Aftab had moved the maintenance tribunal under the Act narrating how despite having spent considerable amount on renovating the house and providing separate residential accommodation to his sons, the latter resoled from their undertaking to pay him a monthly sum of Rs.20,000 collectively, towards his maintenance and for the day-to-day requirements of their mother, who needs constant medical attention.
The maintenance tribunal had on December 10, 2015, directed Shahab to continue staying in the property but strive to support his parents, provide for their needs and pay Rs 5,000 to Aftab while Shadab and Shahnawaz were directed to vacate the third floor of the property within three weeks from the date of the order and make their own arrangements of accommodation. They were also told to refrain from indulging in any argument, making comments, threatening or causing any harm to the complainants and all the other members of the family, including their brother Shahab. The tribunal had also ordered SHO Police Station Hauz Qazi to depute beat staff for regular visits to ensure that life and property of the senior citizen parent are safe and secure.
Rather than complying with the order of the tribunal, Shadab and Shahnawaz moved the high court in appeal saying the tribunal had no jurisdiction to pass such an order. The appeal came to be dismissed by the single judge in 2016 while remarking that the appellants and their aged parents cannot live together in view of the serious allegations leveled against the latter by the wives of the former. While hearing their appeal, the division bench noted that the maintenance tribunal had asked the two sons to vacate the property in three weeks.
Whether the Maintenance Tribunal has the jurisdiction to pass such an order which it passed on 10 December 2015 for eviction?
It is axiomatic that all legislation in a welfare State is enacted with the object of promoting the general welfare. But certain enactments are more responsive to some urgent social demands and have a more immediate and visible impact on the social vices in society by operating more directly to achieve social reforms. These enactments, in our view, demand an interpretation liberal enough to achieve the legislative purpose, without doing violence to the language. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 is evidently one such legislation. It was enacted with the avowed resolve to provide for more effective mechanism to ensure maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens as recognized under the Constitution of India.
The bench took note of the Rules promulgated by the Social Welfare Department in exercise of powers conferred by Section 32 of the Act vide its notification dated 19.12.2016The relevant Rules as amended on December 19, 2016, provide for a senior citizen to make an application before the Dy. Commissioner/District Magistrate (DM) of his district for eviction of his son and daughter or legal heir from his self-acquired property on account of his non-maintenance and ill-treatment. A final order is to be made within 21 days of the receipt of the complaint. The bench laid special emphasis on the Rules expressly providing that “… if the Deputy Commissioner/DM is of opinion that any son or daughter or legal heir of a senior citizen/parents is not maintaining the senior citizen and ill-treating him and yet is occupying the self-acquired property of the senior citizen and that they should be evicted, the Deputy Commissioner/DM shall issue in the manner hereinafter provided a notice in writing calling upon all persons concerned to show cause as to why an order of eviction should not be issued against them/him/her”. The bench relied on judgments of the single judge of the Delhi High Court in Sunny Paul & Anr. v. State NCT of Delhi & Ors and in a case titled Sachin & Anr. v. Jhabbu Lal and Anr wherein it was held that the 2007 Act amongst other remedies, provides for eviction of adult children in cases of parental abuse–like in the present case. It is to be noted that in Sachin and Anr v. Jhabbu Lal, the single judge had held, “Where the house is self-acquired house of the parents, son whether married or unmarried, has no legal right to live in that house and he can live in that house only at the mercy of his parents up to the time the parents allow. Merely because the parents have allowed him to live in the house so long as his relations with the parents were cordial, does not mean that the parents must bear his burden throughout his life.”
In my opinion, the judgment given by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court is very impressive judgment. The bench has given a sound reason while rejecting the appeal which was filed against the order of the Maintenance Tribunal. The merit of the order passed by the Maintenance Tribunal is sound enough as in the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 the said tribunal is constituted and the said act is enacted because of the abuse of elderly persons in Indian society which is totally against our traditions and culture and therefore, if the High Court would have set aside the order passed by the Tribunal then it would have defeated the main purpose of the Act as the preamble of the Act is “to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. At last, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court is indeed just in saying that the Maintenance Tribunal is empowered to order the eviction of legal heirs if parents are ill-treated.
- Family Law Manual, Sumeet Malik, Eastern Book Company, 2015.
- CO 782 of 2012, Decided on April 27, 2012 by Calcutta High Court.
- Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/maintenance-tribunal-empowered-order-eviction-legal-heir-parents-ill-treated-delhi-hc-read-judgment/
- RSA No.136/2016 and CM No.19123/2016