Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 –Tardy Status of Implementation in States
The Act was passed towards the end of 2007. The Central Government recommended that it be adopted and implemented by every state and Union teritory. Out of 35 States / UTs, as Himachal Pradesh has its own act (better than the Central Act), HP is not taken into account. It is not applicable to J&K. Out of the rest of 33 States / UTs four states have not bothered even notify it as acceptable for action. These are: Bihar,Madhya Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh. After notification in the State Gazette, there are four important steps to be taken. These are: a) Framing Rules under the act b) Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Officers c)Notifying / Appointing Maintenance Tribunal and d) Setting up Appelatte Tribunal. Without these crucial steps in place the act is toothless in any state.
Let us look at the Table taken from MOSJE Annual Report for 2009-10. There are some funny things about this table. Four States that are totally blind to Center's plea about this act have not been included. While the data about status as of Feb 2010 is given for 29 states, the Serial Number shows 30 as the numbering is faulty. And the data does not depict true picture.
While the Table says that thirteen states have fully complied with the requirements, we read news items as late as June 2010 that Gujarat and Tamilnadu are yet to appoint Maintenance officers, appellate tribunal etc. Ground reality is different. 15 out of 33 States have not even notified rules – it is as good as doing nothing about the act. It is only around June 2010, on account of Elder Abuse Awareness Day and media pressure, that some states sporadically try to do something. Pressure from Senior Citizens Associations and Sttate and National level federations count nothing with the rulers. One example is Maharashtra where AISCCON, FESCOM and local NGOs like Silver Innings, Dignity & Harmony have been shouting from roof tops – the government is silent as rock.
In Andhra Pradesh draft rules have remained in file, never notified, despite consistent pressure and follow up by FAPSCO and APSCCON. One redeeming factor about AP is that despite absence of rules , the Collector of West Godhavari District has treated the Act as self contained wholesome act ( with rules) and has gone ahead listening to and passing orders under this act – helping senior citizens all the way. As many as 15 cases have been settled which only goes to bust the myth the senior citizens won't go to court against their own children. Hundreds are waiting for leagal avenues to redress their sufferings. Similarly, In Tamilnadu, the police, though they can not directly intefere in cases of Elder abuse under this act, have opted to be sympathetic to senior citizens in tackling offenders out of the way. Not all states are lucky.
Therefore it is impretive that all states and UTs take necessary steps imediately to implement theAct in right spirit, not just on paper. This requires pressure from center, that is MOSJE should do its part. As they are not doing, Senior citizens are showing their dissatisfaction by observing Senior Citizens National Protest Day on 16th August 2010. Joins us in full strength for your own benefit.