Indian Constitution under Article 41 which is a part of “Directive Principles of State Policy” provides that “The State shall, within the limits of economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.”
Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. Under this provision, both sons and daughters are equally liable to maintain their parents.
Under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 definition of children has been expanded to include daughter-in-law and son-in-law by Amendment of 2018.
The object and the Intent behind the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 was explained in Raksha Devi versus Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate, relevant paragraph of which is reproduced below:-
“The Statement of Objects and Reasons, therefore, indicate that the purpose of the Act is to protect and provide for the senior citizens. It is welfare legislation for the benefit of the senior citizens. The provisions of the Act must, therefore, be liberally construed in favour of the senior citizens. Reading a condition into a provision adverse to the interest of the senior citizens would defeat the legislative intent behind the Act.”
WHO CAN ASK FOR MAINTENANCE?
Under the said Act, parents and grandparents who are above the age of 60 years and who are unable to maintain themselves financially can ask from maintenance from those persons who will either inherit their property or are already having the possession of property belonging to senior citizens.
PROCEDURE BEFORE TRIBUNAL
- An application asking for maintenance can be filed by the senior citizens or parents before the Tribunal under Section 4 of the Act. The application for maintenance may either be filed in the district where the senior citizen stays or last stayed, or in the district where the child stays.
- Trinunal then issues notice to the other party i.e. child, conduct the proceedings in summarily manner and passes an order for maintenance.
- As per the Act, an application for interim maintenance shall be disposed within ninety days from the date of the service of notice to the children. However, under exceptional circumstances,a thirty-day extension may be allowed.
- Children are required to pay the maintenance within thirty days of the date of the order by the tribunal.
- The obligation of the children to maintain the senior citizen/parent are upto such an extent so that the Senior citizens are able to lead a healthy life.