Until now, many seniors and parents used criminal law (Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) to seek maintenance. It is a broader law that lets wives, parents, sons, daughters and other dependents to seek maintenance. “The amount under the criminal law differs from state to state. In Maharashtra, for example, it can be 30 per cent of the income of a child,” says advocate Abhilash Panickar. But Datta points out that it entails years of litigation and lawyers’ fees. The procedure under MWPSCA is much more straightforward and cheaper.
Many times, when a mother or a senior woman faces abuse from children or their spouses, they also approach a court to evict children under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. Recently, a Mumbai court evicted a son and his wife from the house that belonged to his parents. The court also ordered the son and his wife to pay rent to the seniors for staying at their home. “There was a landmark judgment under MWPSCA by Delhi High Court in 2007, which said that parents or seniors could also seek eviction under the Act,” says Panickar.
According to the draft of the amendment to the MWPSCA, if a senior citizen transfers property to an individual, who is supposed to take care of them, the receiver cannot sell the property without the consent of the senior citizen or parent. If he does so, it will be considered as a fraudulent transaction, and a tribunal can declare the deal void.
Datta says that one of the challenges they have faced in such cases while helping seniors is if the children or legal heirs refuse to follow tribunal orders. When the seniors or parent approach the tribunal to make them pay, the tribunal seeks police help to ensure that the maintenance is paid. “But it’s frustrating for the seniors to do this regularly. While the act is favourable to seniors, the government also needs to ensure that it’s implemented well,” Datta says.