We live in a society where taking care of the elders is a moral value taught to children. Elderly people in our society are highly respected and experienced. While most of the countries have detailed and well-planned laws that ensure the safety and protection of the rights of elderly people in India people are unaware of their rights.
The Indian laws include the Elder law and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, along with other provisions, which safeguard the rights and interests of senior citizens. According to UNESCO world’s elderly population, which is people above the age of 60, will be around two billion by 2050.
In India, 8 percent of our population comprises of Senior citizens which is around 7.2 crores people in India are senior citizens. Any right violated or any law, which fails to safeguard the rights and interests of the elderly, is handled by the Ministry of Justice and Empowerment.
The Indian Constitution has been drafted beautifully to protect the rights of the elderly people in the country. Provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution under Chapter IV, which corresponds, to Directive Principles thus they cannot be enforced under Article 37 in Court of law.
Article 41 of makes sure that every elderly citizen in India has secured rights to employment, education and public assistance. Article 41 also makes sure that it is the state’s responsibilities if the person is disable, old age ridden, sick.
Meanwhile Article 46 of the Constitution assures that the state protects the educational and economic rights of the senior citizens of the country.
The National Policy for Older persons 1999, guarantees all Senior citizens of India (above the age of 60) 30 percent concession in train tickets. This has now been modified to 58 years of age and 40 percent concession to male senior citizens and 50 percent for female senior citizens.
It has other perks with it such as berth requests as well as special train ticket counters. The Indian Airline Air India is also bound to provide Indian senior citizens (aged 63 and above) to give 45 percent concession to the tickets under the National Policy for Older persons 1999.
The age to avail the concession has now been modified to 60 years and the concession has been modified to 50 percent. Air India also provides its senior citizens the facilities such as wheelchair on call and special care such as boarding and de-boarding before all passengers.
The children are under a legal obligation to maintain their parents under The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Maintenance here means providing their parent not only with monthly allowances but also food, clothing and medical attendance and treatment.
Under The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019 the government brought numerous changes in the original Act of 2007 to increase the ambit.
The bill made distant relatives also responsible for maintenance. It as increased the amount of fine for up to Rs.10,000 along with imprisonment of six months for abandoning parents. This bill has also included son-in-law and daughter-in-law under the definition of “children” and will also be held responsible for not taking care of their parents.
India is a secular country and different religions protect the rights and interests of their senior citizens under their personal laws. Section 20 of The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, poses an obligation on Hindu children to maintain their elderly parents.
It is not an obligation only to the sons but also of the daughter to take care of their parents. And it does not include grandchildren under the definition of “children”.
Under Muslim Law the children have to maintain their parents under the Islamic laws. Under this law the children have to maintain their parents only if they are well to do and their parents are poor.
Both son and daughter are responsible for maintenance of their parents. But in situations where the son is poor he only needs to maintain his mother but if he earns a livelihood he needs to maintain his father also. In Muslim law the mother gets priority and a son is not bound to maintain his stepmother under Muslim laws.
The Christians and Parsi people don’t have personal laws and follow the rules laid down under The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.
Code of Criminal Procedure, states that both father and mother can claim maintenance from both their son and daughter if they are unable to survive on their own. Under Cr.P.C the daughters are also bound to maintain their parents even married daughters are included under “daughters”. In case of stepmother, she can claim maintenance in case if she is a widow and does not have any natural born children.
The Income Tax Act of India, 2007 provides certain benefits to senior citizens under Section 88-B and 88-D and 88-TTB. The elderly people are entitled to get higher tax savings along with having a range of LIC policies and schemes to choose from. Along with this they can also claim discount on their taxes.
The elderly people are a distinctive group in the population and need care and love. The acts and laws have been drafted to make sure that no elderly person faces any problems in his old age.
The children should take care of their parents just as they were taken care of when they were young. If that happens then there is no need to implement and draft such laws.
The elderly people in India re also not well aware of the legal rights they posses, so it should be one’s responsibility to spread as much awareness as they can amongst elderly people about their rights and interests.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
World Population Ageing (Report), United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WPA2015_Report.pdf
Share of population over age of 60 in India projected to increase to 20% in 2050: UN, The Economic Times (Apr 17 2019, 01:20 PM), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/share-of-population-over-age-of-60-in-india-projected-to-increase-to-20-in-2050-un/articleshow/68919318.cms?from=mdr
The Constitution of India, 1950
RakeshDubbudu, Railways now change the rules for availing the Senior Citizen Concession & Quota, Faculty.in (Jan 10 2016), https://factly.in/senior-citizen-concession-in-indian-railways-rules/
TNN, Air India offers 50% discount for senior citizens, The Times Of India (Apr 22 2017 07:02 AM), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/air-india-offers-50-discount-for-senior-citizens/articleshow/58308343.cms
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, Section 2(b)
Neetu Chandra Singh, Cabinet approves Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2019,LiveMint (Dec 5 2019, 08:22 PM), https://www.livemint.com/news/india/cabinet-approves-maintenance-and-welfare-of-parents-and-senior-citizens-bill-2019-11575446887357.html
The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Section 125(1)(d)
PreetiMotiani, How senior citizens can avail tax break on interest income under Sec 80TTB, The Economic Times (Dec 7 2018 10:15 AM), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/tax/how-senior-citizens-can-avail-tax-break-on-interest-income-under-sec-80ttb/articleshow/66915038.cms?from=mdr