Old Age Acts
Amongst the Hindus, the obligation of sons to maintain their aged parents, who were not able to maintain themselves out of their own earning and property, was recognized even in early texts. And this obligation was not dependent upon, or in any way qualified, by a reference to the possession of family property. It was a personal legal obligation enforceable by the sovereign or the state. The statutory provision for maintenance of parents under Hindu personal law is contained in Sec 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. This Act is the first personal law statute in India, which imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. As is evident from the wording of the section, the obligation to maintain parents is not confined to sons only, and daughters also have an equal duty towards parents. It is important to note that only those parents who are financially unable to maintain themselves from any source, are entitled to seek maintenance under this Act.
Children have a duty to maintain their aged parents even under the Muslim law. According to Mulla :
- Children in easy circumstances are bound to maintain their poor parents, although the latter may be able to earn something for themselves.
- A son though in strained circumstances is bound to maintain his mother, if the mother is poor, though she may not be infirm.
- A son, who though poor, is earning something, is bound to support his father who earns nothing.
parents and grandparents in indigent circumstances are entitled, under Hanafi law, to maintenance from their children and grandchildren who have the means, even if they are able to earn their livelihood. Both sons and daughters have a duty to maintain their parents under the Muslim law. The obligation, however, is dependent on their having the means to do so
Christian And Parsi Law
The Christians and Parsis have no personal laws providing for maintenance for the parents. Parents who wish to seek maintenance have to apply under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Under The Code of Criminal Procedure: Prior to 1973, there was no provision for maintenance of parents under the code. The Law Commission, however, was not in favour of making such provision.
According to its report The Cr.P.C is not the proper place for such a provision. There will be considerably difficulty in the amount of maintenance awarded to parents apportioning amongst the children in a summary proceeding of this type. It is desirable to leave this matter for adjudication by civil courts.
The provision, however, was introduced for the first time in Sec. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1973. It is also essential that the parent establishes that the other party has sufficient means and has neglected or refused to maintain his, i.e., the parent, who is unable to maintain himself. It is important to note that Cr.P.C 1973, is a secular law and governs persons belonging to all religions and communities. Daughters, including married daughters, also have a duty to maintain their parents.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
Entitlement to claim maintenance
Section 4 of the Act mentions that a senior citizen including a parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or property owned by him can claim maintenance.
Extent of the liability
In determining the extent of the obligation, it has been stated that the obligation of the children or relative, as the case may be, to maintain a senior citizen or parent (either father or mother or both) extends to the needs of such citizen or parent so that the claimant may lead a normal life.
This Act, however, doesn’t seek to make it an absolute obligation on the relatives of a senior citizen. The Act states that a relative from whom such maintenance is being claimed must have sufficient means to maintain such claimant.
Application for maintenance
An application for claiming maintenance as mentioned under section 4, before a Tribunal as constituted under Section 7 of the Act, may be made-
- By a senior citizen or a parent, as the case may be; or
- If he is incapable, by any other person or organisation authorised by him; or
- The Tribunal may take cognizance on its own (suo motu).
Order for maintenance
The Tribunal may pass an order directing children or relatives to make a monthly allowance at such monthly rate for the maintenance of such senior citizen or parent, as it thinks fit, to such parent or senior citizen. However, before passing such order the Tribunal has to take care of these points:
- That the children or relatives, as the case may be, have neglected or refused to maintain that parent or the senior citizen concerned.
- That the parent or senior citizen, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself; and
- That the Tribunal is satisfied with such neglect or refusal by the children or relatives.
Protection of life and property of Senior citizens
In the situations where a senior citizen after the commencement of this Act, has transferred his property (movable or immovable), by way of gift or any such transfer, but the condition that the transferee shall provide him basic amenities and physical needs, is attached with the transfer, and thereafter such transferee refuses or fails to fulfill such condition, such transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud, coercion or undue influence and the Tribunal can declare such transfer as void.
Establishment of old-age homes
The Act makes it compulsory for the State Government to establish and maintain at least one old-age home in each district to accommodate a minimum of one hundred fifty senior citizens who are indigent.