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Discussion on senior citizens’ rights held

 SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Silchar, Feb 18: In a discussion with a difference organized by the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) of Cachar in the premises of Mediation Centre here today, various provisions of the ‘Rights of Parents and Senior Citizens’ under the Act of 2007 were brought into focus by Nisanta Goswami, secretary, DLSA Cachar, Dharmanda Deb, desigted advocate of the Authority, and Suma iding, Sub-Divisiol Medical Officer. Giving a brief account behind the introduction of the Act of 2007, Goswami said the Act was initiated by Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide more effective provision for maintence and welfare of parents and senior citizens.

 This Act makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintence to senior citizens and parents, by monthly allowance. This Act also provides simple, speedy and inexpensive mechanism for the protection of life and property of the older persons. After being passed by the Parliament of India, it received the assent of the President of India on December 29, 2007 and was published in the Gazette of India on December 31, 2007. Some states have already implemented the Act and other states are taking steps for implementing this Act, pointed out Goswami.

 He further highlighted that the Indian society lay high importance on providing care and protection for parents and elderly. The breaking of joint family system has contributed to the challenges faced by elderly persons. Nowadays, they are forced to live alone and are exposed to various kinds of problems such as lack of physical, social, emotiol and fincial support. To overcome such difficulties and to face new challenges, the Government of India has ected this law in the 58th year of the Republic so as to provide maintence and protection to parents and senior citizens. Deb said the population of senior citizens is 10.38 crore according to the 2011 Census. However, as per the report of the technical group on population projections, constituted by the tiol Commission on Population in May 2006, and published by the Office of the Registrar General of India, this figure is projected to go up to 12.40% of the population by 2026. Deb added to say that this Act provides in-expensive and speedy procedure to claim monthly maintence for parents and senior citizens. The children are obliged to maintain their parents and grandparents and also the relative of the senior citizens.

 Deb pointed out the main attraction of this Act is there are provisions to protect the life and property of such persons. This Act also provides setting up of old age homes for providing maintence to the indigent senior citizens and parents. This Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu And Kashmir. Argenti was the first country to introduce this kind of Act. Later on, other countries followed the suit. It was also assented to by the UNO. In Assam, the Act was introduced on August 2, 2008. This Act has 7 chapters and 32 sections.

 It is also not known that each sub-division should have a maintence tribul headed by the SDO. At the district level, the District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner would head it. Besides, all the protection envisaged in the Act for the senior citizens, there is also the provision to save them from domestic violence. The Act has some criticism from knowledgeable circles. Though the Act has provisions for a better position for the parents and elderly, there is some criticism also. The Act is not easy to implement as there is no obligation enjoined on the state government to establish old age homes. There is no provision for old age pensions and the definitions provided are confusing. Moreover, finding credible, willing and able persons and NGOs for inclusion in the tribul is quite a difficult task.