The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that ageing has become a major social problem for senior citizens as these are the years when their children fail to take their proper care. The HC also held that the Tribunals dealing with pleas by senior citizens can cancel the transfer of properties gifted by them to their children.
A bench of Justices Mahesh Sonak and Pushpa Ganediwala was dealing with a petition filed by a senior citizen seeking to cancel the property he had gifted to his son. He said that his son didn't take proper care of him and tortured and harassed him.
Taking note of the provisions of the maintenance under the Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, the judges said that it was brought in for proper care of senior citizens.
"The said Act was enacted to provide for more effective provision for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto," the bench said, adding, "the statement of objects and reasons refer to how the traditional norms and values of the Indian society laid stress on providing care for the elderly."
The judges further said that more senior citizens are being mistreated because of the changing family patterns in society.
"Due to the withering of the joint family system, a large number of elderly 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 lack of physical and financial support," the judges said.
"This reveals that ageing has become a major social challenge and there is a need to give more attention to the care and protection for older persons," the judges observed.
"Though the parents can claim maintenance under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the procedure is both time-consuming as well as expensive. Hence, there is a need to have simple, inexpensive, and speedy provisions to claim maintenance for parents," the bench opined.
Further, dealing with the contention of the son that the Tribunals cannot cancel the gift deeds, the bench said: "The Act without any ambiguity provides that where any senior citizen who, after the commencement of this Act has transferred by way of gift or otherwise, his property, subject to a condition that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and basic physical needs to the transferor and such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs, the said transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence and shall at the option of the transferor be declared void by the Tribunal."