Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi: Those who intentionally abuse their parents or senior citizens under their care and protection or abandon them may be sentenced to six months' imprisonment or slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 or both, according to a Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, also has provisions for the elderly, so that they can claim maintenance. It envisages mandatory registration of senior citizens care homes and other such institutions which will have to comply with prescribed minimum standards.

The bill defines "abuse" as physical, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, neglect and abandonment, causing assault, injury, physical or mental suffering.

"Children" in relation to a parent or a senior citizen means son or daughter, whether biological, adoptive or step-child, and includes son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, grand-daughter and legal guardians of minor children.

The bill provides for establishment of a tribunal for senior citizens to file claims for maintenance and assistance and such applications from those above 80 years of age should be disposed of within 60 days.

Only in exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded in writing, the tribunal may extend the period only once for a maximum of 30 days. For other senior citizens or parents, their applications will have to be settled by the tribunal within 90 days.

According to the legislation, there will be a nodal officer at each police station, not below the rank of an assistant sub-inspector, to deal with the issues relating to parents and senior citizens.

Similarly, each district will have a special police unit for senior citizens' welfare and such a unit will have to be headed by a police officer not below the rank of DSP.

The state government has to appoint maintenance officer to ensure implementation of the order of maintenance and such officer shall be a point of contact for the parent or senior citizen to liaison and coordinate with them.

According to the statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill, "with the gradual breakdown of joint family system, the incidence of cases of neglect, crime, exploitation and abandonment of parents and senior citizens are in the rise".

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