Asking the Government of Maharashtra to create awareness about the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, Bombay High Court has directed two sons to pay a monthly maintenance for their parents who are above the age of 70 and also asked them to vacate their parent’s house in light of the harassment meted out to them (parents).
This judgement was passed by Justice Sadhana Jadhav after hearing a petition filed by the eldest son, Santosh.
Under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, a provision was made to the effect that if a petitioner is able to substantiate before the Tribunal that there is a neglect, it may order the children/relatives to give monthly allowance upto Rs. 10,000.
On July 29, 2015 both the parents (Surendra Patil and his wife) filed an application before the District Collector under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. They contended that Surendra worked as a supervisor in a private company and he retired in 1991. He does not receive any pension, while his wife, who was a retired headmistress of a municipal school received Rs. 13,000 as pension.
They secured a loan to construct the ground floor of their house, and with the money they received on retirement, they constructed the first floor of their house anticipating some additional income from rent.
From the application, it is clear that Surendra Patil was a diabetic and he lost his ability to work and earn a living in 2002 after losing vision in his right eye and had blurred vision in the left eye. They had a significant amount of medical expenses and most of the pension amount was spent towards these expenses.
Both his sons did not take care of him and his wife, even though they lived in the same premises. Their daughter, who is a divorcee helped to the best of her ability. She also stays in the same premises.
In 2004, when both the parents were ailing and bed ridden, the elder son (petitioner) got a Memorandum of Of Understanding (MOU) executed, which stated that he will retain possession of the ground floor of the house and obtained signatures of both his parents who were unaware of the contents of the MOU.
The younger son who used to stay on the first floor, gave it on rent without his parent’s consent.
While daughter Sujata, who was staying in a tin shed on the rooftop, was paying Rs.500 towards rent.
Fed up with the atrocities meted out to them by their sons and daughter in law, both Surendra and his wife approached the Collector under the Provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007.
The Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), Pune (Tribunal constituted under said Act) allowed the petition and directed the petitioner to vacate the ground floor of the bungalow and further directed him to pay an amount of Rs. 2,500 per month as maintenance to his parents.
An appeal filed before the appellate authority was also dismissed. Thereafter, a criminal writ petition was filed and came up before the vacation bench of Justice PD Naik, who then stayed the order primarily because copy of the reasoned order passed by the appellate authority was not available.
After hearing both parties, a regular bench vacated the stay order provided as an interim relief to the petitioner and noted that pendency of this petition should not be construed as a stay on execution of the order by the SDO.
In March 2017, Tejpal Ingale, lawyer for the parents, submitted that despite the court order vacating stay on execution of SDO’s order, both the sons had “ingressed the house and had kept their lien on the said premises.” This encroachment, the parents said, had restricted their own movement in the house and were unable to live in peace. Parents even complained of being assaulted by the petitioner.
Upon examining all the facts, Justice Jadhav noted that parents were indeed being harassed by both the sons and observed-
“They are not only being neglected by their son, but also traumatized by the ill-treatment meted to them by their sons, who are forcing them to transfer their property in their own name.”
Referring to the argument that the petitioner could never be evicted from the said house, Court said-
“It is apparent that the family responsibilities are as understood, less binding upon the Petitioner and the respondent No. 3 (younger son).
The parents had submitted that they were coerced to sign the said MOU. In any case, it shocks the conscience of the Court that the Petitioner could get the MOU executed when the parents were ailing. That was the time when they needed care and medical aid. But the Petitioner had forced them to sign the MOU. The same cannot be executed.”
Justice Jadhav further noted –
“The manner in which the Petition was contested by the petitioner attempting to falsify every allegation, reflects upon their conduct. There is record to show that parents had to approach the police station on more than two occasions to take coercive action against their own children, is the convincing evidence to dismiss the Petition.”
Thus, Court upheld the SDO’s order directing both the sons to evict the said premises and directed the elder son to pay a cost of Rs.25,000 to his parents towards litigation expenses.
Both the sons have also been directed to pay Rs.2000 (each) every month to their parents.
Finally, the Court expressed hope that the State Government would take effective steps to implement Section 21 of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and bring about awareness of this act.