The lockdown hasn’t been easy on senior citizens. The Mumbai city Senior Citizens’ Tribunal has reported a rise in the number of petitions filed during this period. The Deputy Collector (Mumbai City), Kalyan Pandhare is the only presiding officer of this tribunal. He told the Free Press Journal that cases have risen as people were forced to stay indoors owing to the pandemic.
Pandhare said the tribunal receives complaints of torture, abuse and ill-treatment at the hands of children and other family members. He said, “The key complaint in several cases is a property dispute. However, we try to settle the dispute by asking them to provide monthly compensation. We also have a provision to order the eviction of children and other relatives from common residence.”
A monthly compensation of maximum Rs 10,000 can be provided under the provision of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Similarly, under section 23 of the Act, the tribunal has the power to cancel the gift and sale deeds, if necessary. In fact, the complainant can file an application of complaint and seek justice without an advocate. Every complaint needs to be disposed of within three months, Pandhare said.
The tribunal has disposed of over 60 cases out of 125 it has received so far. Pandhare asserted that pending cases from last year are those where the complainants have not appeared for hearing or the matter was resolved before a hearing.
The Centre and the state government have started special helpline numbers for seniors in distress, through Pune-based Jan Seva Foundation. Rohit Sakpal, the head of its Mumbai division, agreed that the complaints rose sharply during the lockdown. He said, “Besides complaints of ill-treatment, we have also received missing person complaints and from those who have no support.”
The state social welfare ministry has also formed a committee to give suggestions. The first meeting will be held on September 23, an official said. He said, “The Centre has issued grants for 10 old age homes in Mumbai. Applications have been issued by the Centre calling for NGOs to provide service. The selected NGO will be aided by the government, while the state social welfare department will monitor the working.”