Julie Mariappan, TNN 5 October 2009, 06:25am IST
CHENNAI: Here is a warning. You could be imprisoned or fined or be
subjected to both if you abandon your elderly parents. The Tamil Nadu
government is set to notify rules for the Maintenance and Welfare of
Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, to help tribunals in each
district decide on the order of maintenance for elderly citizens, who
complain about being neglected by their children.
"The social welfare department, in consultation with the law
department, is fine-tuning the rules and it will be published very
shortly (in a week)," social welfare department principal secretary P
Rama Mohana Rao told the Times of India. Both the departments had
resolved the problems that cropped up while framing the rules,
especially over which department should lead the tribunals — the
revenue department or its social welfare counterpart.
It has been a year now since Tamil Nadu, along with ten other states,
notified the Act to help senior citizens and parents above 60 years,
unable to maintain himself/herself, file a complaint against children
(not minors) or relatives (who would inherit and are in possession of
the property of the elderly). The application can be filed by the
senior citizen or parent or by any other person or organization
authorised by the former if he/she incapable of doing it.
As per the TN rules, sources say, the revenue divisional officer (RDO)
in each district will be the tribunal head before whom the applicant
can file a complaint. The district social welfare officer will be the
maintenance officer and conciliation officer, who will conduct an
inquiry and submit a report to the tribunal. The district collector
will be the appellate authority.
Under the Act, any person with the responsibility of caring or
protecting a senior citizen leaves such a person in any place with the
intention of wholly abandoning him/her, shall be punishable with
imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to
three months or fine that may extend to Rs 5,000 or with both.
"It is a welcome move," says HelpAge India national director Indrani
Rajadurai. "It will create to a certain extent, a fear of punishment
among children, to persuade them to take care of their parents. It is
long-felt need. Also, the elderly should shed their instincts and come
forward to file a complaint against the children who have abandoned
them," she added.
"We will consider all humanitarian issues before notifying the rules.
In fact, we have decided to hold talks with the health department to
include senior citizens in the recently-launched health insurance
scheme for BPL families," Rao said.
Source: TOI 5th Oct 2009