MAINTENANCE TO SENIOR CITIZENS
Indian law requires an able-bodied person who has means to maintain and support their parents, which include biological, step-parents and adoptive parents, in the similar manner that a person has to maintain his wife and children. However for senior citizens, a special law was enacted – The Maintenance and Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Act, 2007, under which a senior citizen (above 60 years) can get maintenance from his adult children or legal heir. However, this is not the only act under which the parents/ senior citizens can seek maintenance from their children.
A Hindu Biological/Adoptive parent, who is aged / infirmed can seek maintenance from their grown children under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 if they are unable to maintain themselves from their own earning or property. In the event, when the son or daughter is no more, parents can still claim maintenance from the wealth and properties of the deceased child. This law does not provide maintenance to step parent or parents of other religions.
Any parent be it biological/ adoptive/ step parent can also claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Better known as CrPC 125), if any person with sufficient resources refuses or ignores to maintain parents who are unable to maintain themselves. This law is secular in nature and is applicable to all citizens of India.
Quantum/ Amount of Maintenance:
Under any of the above acts, there is no standard sum of money awarded as maintenance. It is decided on a case-by-case basis on the facts of the case. The court decides maintenance based on following parameters:
• Income of the respondent and petitioner
• Needs and requirements of the respondent and petitioner
• Whether they are living in the same household or not
• Any special needs of the Petitioner
• Liabilities of the respondent
• Number of persons who are to be maintained by the respondent.
Maintenance after death of the Children:
The spouse or offspring of the deceased children also can not escape the liability of maintenance. Though it would be decided on separate parameters. The court may order that a portion of a person’s wealth and assets be given to parents in case of intestate succession and the same would be applicable as per the rules of succession. Otherwise also, the court can make adequate provision from the estate left after paying debts for the maintenance of children. Sadly The Maintenance and Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Act, 2007 or other acts don’t cast any liability on the daughter-in-law / son-in-law to provide for maintenance from her/ his earnings.
Process of claiming Maintenance:
Maintenance under The Maintenance and Welfare Of Parents And Senior Citizens Act, 2007 can be applied in a tribunal set by state government. In Delhi, SDM is vested with authority to pass an order for maintenance. The process is simpler and shorter and the normal rule of leading evidence etc is dispensed with.
Maintenance under CrPC 125 has to be applied in the magistrate court having territorial jurisdiction over the children or parents. In most states now these cases are now referred in the Family Court.
Maintenance under HIndu Adoptions and Maintenance act can be applied in the family court or civil court. In metropolitan areas the original suit can also be filed in the High Court if pecuniary jurisdiction is of High Court.
All these courts/ tribunals would first try to bring amicable settlement between parties to arrive at a settlement of maintenance amount and the order passed can be enforced as per the specific act by attachment of properties or by putting in civil prison.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don’t have any son, can I claim maintenance from my daughter?
Yes, both under CrPC 125 and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 one can claim maintenance from the daughter. The word daughter includes a married daughter. However, the son-in-law is not bound to maintain the parents of his wife, if wife is not earning or does not have any assets.
I have more than One Children, can I claim maintenance from all of them?
Yes, you can claim maintenance from all children and they shall be jointly liable to pay maintenance to you as per their own income and liabilities.
Though this step has helped very few brethren till date, it remains in vogue. Actually, I think this has a high chance of back firing. If you agree for high maintenance to parents, the courts ask you to match the same for wife as well. Also, if the parents also allege that you are not a good person that just solidifies the case in favour of wife.
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