Legal Obligations to Help Our Parents. Are you kidding me?

By at 9 December, 2009, 11:09 pm

Pensioner gets new fence after Nevsky Express train crash

Tarun, left a lucrative career and  settled in his native city,  to look after his parents in old age. He had to start fresh, make new contacts and invest his income in a totally new project. It might sound bit odd but he seems to have no regrets, rather he is happy to be with his parents. This is an opportunity he would have never got while working in a MNC in Banglore.

But all of us might not make such selfless decisions. We are often guided by materialism and success when it comes to making important decisions in our lives. I would not completely blame people who chose their career over their parental home. The problem arises not because we are not attached to our parents but because our economic prospects force us to do so. The generation gap is also one of the reasons why children neglect their parents.

I know many people who even if could not reside in their parental home, have ensured that their parents are not a neglected identity. They make continous efforts to see that their parents get the love, affection and care that they deserve.

However in India’s traditional society there are also a large number of people who completely ignore their parents. Even worse they are some who torture and ill treat them. Sometime back I read a story of how a woman in Rajasthan was chained like an animal by her son and daughter in law. In another incident, Seventy-two-year-old Komal Singh complained that his  son Brijesh and daughter in law Manpreet had tortured him and his wife.

Moreover there are instances where children after acquiring the property of their parents, make them homeless. This is the reality of the society which known for parent child relationship. If we go back to ancient times, and remember Bhishm, who pledged to never marry so as to ensure his step mothers happiness. Also there was Shravan Kumar, who took his blind parents on his shoulders for a pilgrimage.

Fortunately, the legislators have realized that it is time that children not only have social or moral responsbilty but also legal responsbilty to take care of their old parents.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 seeks to make it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens. It also permits state governments to establish old age homes in every district. The obligation is on both Indian Citizens as well as those living abroad. Senior citizens are those who are above 60 years. The act only addresses to the needs of those senior citizens who have either property or children.

The term Parents includes Biological, Step and adoptive parents.The definition of children excludes minors and includes  sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and ‘relative’ . (in cases of childless senior citizens relatives who are in possession of their property or would inherit it after their death should take care of them). It is a good thing that the definition is not gender biased as it puts equal responsibilities on both male and female. Moreover the relative has to maintain them in proportion to the property inherited by him/her.

The maximum amount of maintainance is to be set by various states which can exceed only up to Rs10,000 per month. This is a commendable effort by our legislators as up till now under Section 125 of the CrPC the maintainance amount for women and children have been merely 500 per month. The word to maintain a NORMAL LIFE, may be ambiguous but it ensures that children not only provide their parents with basic aminities but also a dignified and comfortable life.

Various countries like Sri Lanka, Canada, U.S.A, South Africa and China have legislated in this regard. India is yet to put an obligation on the state to maintain the childless parents.

The Act further empowers the state governments to establish old age homes for a maximum capacity of 15o on their discretion. The Act is surely a positive step in making people accountable to their parents. However it ignores the women who are widowed before attaining age of 60 and childless parents without property. The Act is an affirmative action in improving the condition the elderly parents.

It is strange that our economic and occupational needs have made us so aloof that the state has to force us to take care of our parents. In this competition to succeed we sometimes forget that we are successful because of our parents. A minor can not afford food, shelter, education and descent life all by his own. We take the same pain for our children, but we forget that they might ignore us too in the same way we did our parents.

If every selfless parent becomes selfless children too then we will never have government to make laws for us. Our country requires more of Tarun and less of Brijesh.

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Categories : Legal Mirror | Social Issues

Bikash Bansal December 10, 2009

Interesting thought. Nice Read.

meghna December 10, 2009

Thanks Bikash…

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