Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007

Introduction

The Act was passed in the year 2007 for the benefit of the senior citizens who were in cruelty with their Children, Grand Children or concerned relatives. It was after the enactment of this act where a specific legislation for the protection of the senior citizens came into force. 

Preamble of every act is the key to understanding the intention behind the act and the preamble of this act says that this act provides for more well directed provisions for the parents and senior citizens which are in reference with the constitution of India.

According to the provisions of the act a senior citizen can apply for the maintenance if they are not able to provide it for themselves in a maintenance tribunal which is established under this act of which the presiding officer will be District Magistrate or a person appointed not below the rank of a S.D.O. i.e. Sub Divisional Officer.

Further this act states that if transfer of property is made from a senior citizen to his children, grandchildren or relatives it will be on a condition that the transferee will provide maintenance to the transferor and if he fails to do so then the transfer may become void making it transfer done under fraud, coercion, or undue influence.

Recently, there have been instances where eviction of the children, grandchildren and relatives have taken place from the self-acquired property of senior citizens. These have taken place due to various judgments from the apex court and judgments from different high courts which we will analyze further.

Now, we will first understand the important sections of the act which help in functioning of the act.

Important Sections of the Act

Section 2(d) and Section 2(h) which define the words ‘parents’ and ‘senior citizens’ respectively, As the whole act revolves around these two definitions they should be read combined to understand them better.

The initial work of this section starts from the first stage of the application for the maintenance under section 5 of the act where sub-section (4) of section 5 states that proceeding has to be disposed of within 90 days from the date of service of the notice of the application to the person against it is filed.

Tribunal formed under this act is armed with power of criminal proceedings also under section 125 C.R.P.C. 1973 for attaining the attendance of the children or relatives under section 6 of the act.

Maintenance Tribunal is formed under section 7 of the act and the presiding officer of the tribunal shall not be below the rank of sub divisional officer of a state. 

Maintenance allowance which shall not be more than ten thousand per month according to the state government as per ordered by the presiding officer of the tribunal which shall be paid by the relative or children whomsoever against the order is passed under Section 9 of the act.

Appeals are filed under Section 16 to the appellate tribunal constituted from the Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 by the party against whom the order is passed. Appellate tribunal acts as a second forum and maintenance tribunal as a first forum under the act of 2007.

Section 17 of the act is also an important section which cannot be left untouched as it says that no Advocate shall represent either parties in the maintenance tribunal or the appellate tribunal. This section has been in dispute lately as there have been judgments contradicting this section which we will discuss further in the article through judgments.

Now we come to Section 23 of the act which is the most important section and also has been under lots of observation by the various High courts and the Supreme Court. This section states that the transfer of property can be made void or declared unconstitutional if a precedent condition to maintain the parents is not fulfilled. This is the only provision in the entire act which deals with the immovable property.

According to Section 27, Civil courts have no jurisdiction in the working of the authority appointed under the act as this is a special act enacted for specific purpose which shall not be interfered just because a procedure of civil court exists.

In today’s time law is evolving everyday with new Judgments from the Apex court and various High courts and interpretations by learned judges, so to have a better command on the acts like these one should understand the landmark judgments which are determining the shape of the existing law and present position of the act today.

Latest and Landmark Judgments on important sections of the Act

On Section 16 Appeals

  • K Raju v. Union of India decided on 19th Feb 2021
    • Madras High Court

In this case it was decided that only parents or senior citizens are permitted to file appeals in the Appellate tribunal under the Senior Citizen Act, 2007 for challenging orders passed by the Senior Citizen Maintenance Tribunal. 

  • Rakhi Sharma v. State & Ors. decided On 5th mar 2021
    • Delhi High Court

This case overruled the previous judgment of K Raju v UOI and decided that any person who is affected by an order passed by a Maintenance Tribunal under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 can file an appeal before the Appellate Tribunal ruled by a Single Bench of Justice Pratibha M. Singh.

On Section 17 Right to legal representation

  • Adv KG Suresh v. Union of India on 30th Mar 2021 
    • Kerala High Court

In this case the Kerala High court has held that Advocates are entitled to Appear in Maintenance Tribunals and the bar on lawyers representing parties in matters before the Maintenance Tribunals constituted under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Maintenance Act) is declared unconstitutional.

In this ground breaking judgment which is also a major victory for advocates, the Kerala High Court on March 30, 2021 in this learned, laudable and landmark judgment rightly held that, “Section 17 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, is declared as ultra vires of Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961.” A two Judge Bench of Kerala High Court comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly pronounced this path breaking judgment thereby allowing a writ petition filed in 2011.

  • Taruna Saxena v. Union of India 16th Apr ’21 
    • Delhi High Court

In a case in Delhi High court reiterated that Advocates can practice in a maintenance tribunal and declared section 17 of the senior citizens ultra vires to the section 30 of the Advocates act 1961 further strengthening the previous ruling by the Kerala high court. 

On Section 23 and Eviction

  • S.R. Batra and Anr v. Smt. Taruna Batra on 15 December, 2006
    • Supreme Court of India

In this case it was held that if it is ancestral property then daughter in law has right but not in case where parents have their self-acquired property then the daughter in law has no right in the property, Daughter in law can live if they have no means but they don’t have any right on it.

  • Smt. Rashmi Saxena v. Suresh Prakash Saxena on 6 December, 2017
    • Rajasthan High Court

In this case, the court ordered the appellant Rashmi Saxena to evict the premises of the defendant with a condition that she will be provided with Rs. 30 lacs by the defendant for her shelter which was agreed by both the parties.

  • Om Prakash Manchanda v. D.M./Collector, Kanpur Nagar & Ors. [2019  (132)  ALR  566]
    • Allahabad High Court

This Judgment is in favor of the son where the High Court said that Son is a mere licensee in the property so he will not have any rights in the property but he cannot be evicted out of property.

  • S. Vanitha v. The Deputy Commissioner on 15 December, 2020
    • Supreme court of India civil appellate jurisdiction

This Judgment was given by the Supreme Court which led to the eviction of the daughter in law. It also pointed out the constitutional provision such as article 21 behind the act.

  • Vinod Sharma v. Smt. Shanti Devi & Ors. on 21st Feb 2022
    • Rajasthan High Court

In this Judgment, Senior Citizens Act Does Not Contemplate Eviction Of Children, Tribunal Can Only Order Maintenance, Eviction order can only be passed by the District magistrate mentioned in an argument in Rajasthan High Court. He argued that section 23 of the Act of 2007 is the only provision in the entire Act which deals with immovable property.

  • Jeetu & Amit Kumar Rawat & Anr. v. SDM Sadar Lucknow & Anr. in 14th Mar 2022
    • Allahabad High Court

This is the latest Order passed by the Allahabad High Court stated that for District Magistrate it is mandatory to ensure that life & property of senior citizens is protected and also confirmed the eviction of the Petitioners.

Conclusion

With this we come to the conclusion that the legal structure of our country for the protection of parents and senior citizens has been ineffective, but due to recent judgments and interpretations by the Apex court and various other high courts it has been rejuvenated with new sharpness to cut through the injustice which has been around in the past.

Another thing to know is that due to an increase in the number of cases related to senior citizens act 2007 the awareness of the existing legal provisions has risen. While in the past people who were not aware are now known to their legal rights and senior citizens who were aware of the legal provisions were reluctant to file a complaint either due to fear of the family’s reputation, they have now come out more fearlessly.

After everything there are still efforts required to be taken in this regard to increase awareness so that this subject is not looked upon with sore eyes and also to make aware the citizens of our country of their legal rights.

References

  • Adv KG Suresh vs The Union of India and 3 others in WP(C)No. 21946 of 2011(S)
  • Indian Kanoon
  • Ipleaders

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