Source: The Economic Times
Now, even daughter-in-law and son-in-law of senior citizens would be responsible to take care of them. Moving to amend the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, the government has expanded the ambit of social security for the elderly by making distant relatives responsible for their upkeep, increased fine and imprisonment for abandoning parents and done away with the financial cap of Rs 10,000 for maintenance of parents.
The ministry of social justice and empowerment has finalised the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill 2018. The legislation amends many clauses of the 2007 Act to ensure better care and maintenance for the senior citizens.
The government has introduced new clauses that would make it mandatory for the government to set standards for senior citizens care centres and multi-service daycare centres. The government, through agencies like Quality Control of India, would also have star ratings for centres so that an elderly person knows the standard of care to expect from a centre.
There has been a steady rise in the population of senior citizens in India, which has gone up from 1.98 crore in 1951 to 10.38 crore in 2011.
Projections indicate an increase to 14.3 crore in 2021. Over the years, there was a need felt to address areas of concern like non-payment of maintenance and the amount being too meagre. The ministry wrapped up the consultation process last year and has finalised the draft which is expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.
The definition of “children” has been expanded to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law. This means that so far a daughter, son, grandson or grand daughter was responsible for the care of a senior citizen. But now, even daughter-inlaw, son-in-law, a minor through a guardian or a relative of a childless elderly would be held responsible for their care.
To protect the senior citizens from being conned into gifting their property, the government has introduced an amendment which bars a relative or a child from further selling the property of a parent without their consent.
The legislation has done away with the financial cap on maintenance that a person has to pay. Earlier, the limit under 2007 Act was Rs 10,000. However, it was felt that while this adequate in rural areas or smaller towns, it was quite meagre in bigger cities.
The government has also laid down very stringent conditions for nonpayment of maintenance to parents. If a person refuses to pay maintenance despite being ordered by a tribunal, he can be imprisoned till the amount due is paid. Punishment for abandonment of a parent which attracted an imprisonment of upto three months has been made harsher.
The imprisonment would be up to six months with and a fine up to Rs 10,000 or both.