Kerala set to pass the Senior Citizens Bill
The Bill proposes 6 months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for children or legal heirs abandoning their parents
Kerala is set to pass an ordinance to finalise the draft bill for the protection of rights of senior citizens from neglect and cruelty by children and other relatives. The Kerala Senior Citizens Bill is for providing maintenance, protection, care, welfare and for creative involvement of all senior citizens in activities of public good and to lay down the measures to be taken by the state to ensure it.
The Bill proposes six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for children or legal heirs abandoning their parents, and is currently with the Social Justice Department. The bill was prepared by the Kerala Law Reforms Commission and subsequently cleared by the Law Department.
The bill was mentioned in the recent state Budget. The government is planning to issue an ordinance in this regard soon as the ongoing Assembly session will end on 15 February. It is not immediately clear what the powers of the Commission will be.
The Bill defines senior citizens as those:
a) Those who draw no pension but has income from other sources sufficient to lead a reasonably dignified life.
b) Those who draw no pension or other fair retirement benefits under any scheme or from any employer but was an employee at the time of retirement.
c) Those who draw pension but do not have the right of reimbursement of medical expenses
d) Those who draw pension and right of reimbursement of expenses
The government has stated that it would direct all panchayats and municipalities, District Collector’s office and police stations to maintain a register of senior citizens with all these details.
The law states that it is the duty of every person within the limits of his financial capacity to take care, look after and maintain his/her parents and grandparents and dependent minor children and widowed sisters without the means of minimal sustenance and to assure them a life with dignity and creative involvement.
According to the bill, children or legal heirs subjecting a senior citizen to cruelty or shifting the latter to a rescue home without consent could be sentenced to jail for up to three years.