The Delhi High Court, while dealing with cases of eviction of legal heirs from the property on the ground of harassment of parents, was recently faced with two questions.
Firstly, whether the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 provides for a remedy to Senior Citizens/parents of monetary maintenance by the children/relative or does it provide for eviction of adult children in case of parental abuse?
Secondly, whether a claim for eviction before the Maintenance Tribunal is maintainable under Section 23 of Act of 2007 and that too on allegations of forcible ouster and in the absence of a claim for maintenance?
The high court has, in answer to these questions, said that “There is nothing in Section 23, which pre-supposes an application for maintenance as a prerequisite for seeking a relief under it. The scope of Section 23 is to declare the transfer of property by a senior citizen with an intent that the transferee shall provide the basic amenities and physical needs to the transferor and if such transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities and physical needs, in such an eventuality, the transfer of property can be declared void by the Tribunal”.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kamemswar Rao upheld the finding of a single judge that the claim for maintenance is not a condition precedent for passing an order of eviction under Section 23 of the Act of 2007.
Section 23 provides for conditions under which the transfer of property from senior citizen will be void, which includes cases where transfer has been made on the condition that transferee shall maintain the transferor but fails to do so.
Rejecting the contention of the appellant that eviction cannot be ordered in absence of claim for maintenance, the bench said, “A senior citizen may be contended if the transfer of property effected is treated as void so as to enable him to maintain himself from the estate, for which a senior citizen may not seek maintenance. So the plea of the learned counsel for the appellant that in the absence of a claim for maintenance by the respondent Nos.2 and 3 (parents), a petition under Section 23 shall not be maintainable, is without any merit.”
“A reading of the Rules framed by the Government of NCT clearly reflect that a senior citizen can file an application seeking eviction of his son and daughter or legal heir from his self-acquired or ancestral property on the ground of ill-treatment or non-maintenance. The vires of these Rules has not been challenged by the appellant. The limited challenge is to the jurisdiction of the Maintenance Tribunal to order an eviction under the Act of 2007. So noting the limited challenge to the order passed by the Tribunal and keeping in view the fact that the enactment being a social legislation and the same requires to be given liberal interpretation to achieve the mandate of the Act of 2007 i.e., for the welfare of the parents and senior citizens and for the protection of their life and property, there is no doubt that the Tribunal does have the jurisdiction to direct vacation by the children of any property in which the senior citizen has a right of residence/possession,” held the bench.
It also reiterated that having regard to the object of the Act:
(i) the term “transfer” shall include actual transfer of title or ownership; the act of allowing possession of property / allowing stay in the property or in part of property from which the Senior Citizen / Parents can earn income to maintain themselves and
(ii) similarly the term “transferee” shall mean the children / legal heir in whose favour the property, is transferred or is in possession of or are staying in the property or part of the property (but without consideration)
In this case, a son had challenged the March 15, 2017 order of the single judge who had upheld the October 01, 2015 order passed by the Maintenance Tribunal constituted under The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007 whereby he and his brother were directed to vacate a property in Delhi’s posh Civil Lines area and to allow peaceful possession therein of their mother.
The sons had been harassing their parents.
In another case, a daughter-in-law had challenged the order passed by the single judge upholding the order of the District Magistrate asking her to evict the first floor of the house of her parents-in-law.
The woman was separated from her husband and had been living in his parents’ house for months now.
The daughter-in-law contended that the property in question was an ancestral property of her father-in-law and therefore, he could not maintain the application for eviction under the Act or the Rules.
“On perusal of Rule 22(3)(1)(i) as incorporated in the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules 2017 and noting the fact that the property in question had devolved on him by way of a registered Will executed by his mother, surely it follows that Dhani Ram’s son or for that matter his daughter-in-law can claim no right in the same. In any case, under the Rules, a senior citizen/parent can seek eviction of son, daughter or legal heir from an ancestral or self-acquired property, the vires of which Rule has not been challenged by the appellant in these proceedings nor before the learned Single Judge. As long as the said Rules exist, the order of the Tribunal giving impugned directions cannot be faulted,” held the bench.
The bench relied upon amended Rule 22(3)(1)(i) of Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules 2017, which stipulated that a senior citizen or a parent can make an application to the concerned Deputy Commissioner/District Magistrate for eviction of his son, daughter or legal heir from his property of any kind whether moveable or immoveable, ancestral or self-acquired, tangible or intangible and includes rights or interests in such properties on account of his non-maintenance and ill-treatment.