THE SENIOR CITIZENS(MAINTENANCE,PROTECTION&WELFARE) BILL, 2006: http://rajyasabha.nic.in/bills-ls-rs/2006/X_2006.PDF
Its very sad to realise that it needed a bill for enforcing the debt repayment (which cannot be repaid even in a lifetime by a child) we owe to our old parents. It pains to know that we have 'advanced' so much materialistically to come a conclusion that old people are not 'economically viable' in our scheme of things!. In our pursuits for higher posts, salaries, newer toys, bigger houses and villas, our hearts become smaller and smaller to the extend that our own parents cannot be accommodated in it anymore.
Anyway its good that government has realised this unfortunate trend of desertion and indifference towards old parents/grand parents. And the bill sounds very good in its intentions, it remains to be seen how the implementation is done and what are the actual guidelines laid out in the final Law after the Bill is passed. Questions like what’s the time frame in which relief is made available and whether the process of redressal is straight and clean, crop up in mind having seen lots of shoddily drafted laws which disadvantage our seniors, like IPC 498a, Domestic violence etc(please go through some of the instances we came across in field, below).
In Domestic Violence laws its said that the complainant should be given right to residence, some misuse of DV act can lead to loss on part of parents who may lose their residence to the law-misusing daughter in law. In many of the cases we have come across in our group, we have known for a fact that the elderly parents are the worst affected along with kids, when a law like IPC 498a or DV act is misused, where elders often will have wash their hands off from a life time's savings- just on the basis of a false complaint by the wives side.
Similarly talking about implementation of DV act requires 'Protection officers' and 'Service Providers'(NGOs or groups who are already in social services or related services are supposed to apply for being service providers), these two requirements of the DV law is not yet fully chartered out and hence in many places DV act is actually a white elephant, this bill for seniors too can go that way since there is a requirement that there should be tribunals in every district- I wonder how fast or whether this can be achieved in practice.
Having said about the lack of concern by youngsters towards their parents in the name of economic success and pursuits, I also would like to caution that there is a possibility of misuse of this law too, since revocation of will and jail sentences too are possible from offences under this law. This is more so since anyone can complain (on the behalf of senior citizens), about the so-called neglect and desertion of parents by children and such complaints could be false with some oblique motive, just using the vulnerability of parents who are totally dependant on someone else while their children are pursuing their careers and interests elsewhere (but supporting and maintaining their parents all the while). Therefore proper investigation of the case facts and evidences has to take place before any action against the accused are undertaken (the offence should not be cognisable or non-bailable, lest this fire power is misused for wrecking vengeance by someone who tricks the old people into filing false cases against their kids, or in any other scenario where these provisions of law is misused for some reason or the other). In some cases indifferent parents would have been instrumental in bringing-up indifferent children, in which case penalising only the children is kind of biased and unfortunate (who cared when that child was getting mistreated or uncared for?).
You can find some counter arguments in the above lines here:
http://www.suchetadalal.com/articles/display/46/2289.article . Where the author concludes by mentioning " The growth of individualism, the fraying bonds of kinship and blood, decay of the joint and extended family are not moral failings, but are the inseparable companions of economic success. The neglected and abandoned elderly are only the generational counterpart of children hurt, mistreated, abused or exploited by sometimes desperate parents. If the government wishes to enforce its desire that all dependant people should be tended and cherished, it will have to come up with some more imaginative way of dealing with the injuries to which its own enthusiastic polices have made such a significant contribution. "
What we need as a permanent guideline is to imbibe good values, not legalising inter-personal relationships or delivering force-fitted piece-meal solutions, where love is the only thing lacking!.
Adding some points vis a vis an FAQ:
Q -> Discuss the so-called domestic laws and their good points, flaws or even ambiguity or absence – dowry, inheritance, domestic violence, senior citizens etc.
Ans -> The good thing about Domestic laws is that they address the point when a woman is oppressed, the bad point is also that they address only the scenario in which a woman is oppressed, not the scenarios in which Men are oppressed.
The recent Protection of Women against Domestic Violence law even necessitates that the complainant needs to be a women and the accused (respondent) needs to be a Man, thus excluding other scenarios of domestic violence from this laws ambit. What happens to the senior citizens who are oppressed by women, men harassed my women?.
Though our dowry laws has a provision for punishment of Dowry Givers, how many instances of dowry giving has been punished?!. Surprised?. In how many instances have girls married (for whatever reasons it may be) lesser-established boys without paying dowry?(by not buying the boy)
Its the same parents who lament after marrying off a daughter to someone, somehow, by paying of dowry, while totally avoiding the issue of equal inheritance by both son and daughter. Which if done and enforced, will end the social menace called dowry.