18 Sep 2023 6:45 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court has upheld the delegation of powers by the District Magistrate to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate under Section 22(1) of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 read with Rule 22(2)(i) of the Uttar Pradesh Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2014. A bench comprising of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice...
The Allahabad High Court has upheld the delegation of powers by the District Magistrate to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate under Section 22(1) of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 read with Rule 22(2)(i) of the Uttar Pradesh Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2014.
A bench comprising of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice Rajendra Kumar-IV held,
“The power being vested in the District Magistrate, by an act of the principal legislature and that power being permitted to be delegated to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, wherever there may arise any doubt as to maintainability of any application filed by any senior citizen under the Act, either before the delegate or the delegatee i.e. the District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, such an application may never be dismissed as non-maintainable, for reason of delegation made or its lack.”
The ruling is significant since the Court is facing a regular influx of cases where the proceedings under the Act and the Rules framed there are found to have been delayed many times owing to doubt as to jurisdiction/delegation of powers.
The Court categorically held that the Senior Citizens Act is welfare legislation brought to provide a speedy, summary remedy to senior citizens to protect their life and property, to the minimum. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate ought not to reject any application delegated to him by the District Magistrate.
The petitioner, a senior citizen, claimed to have been harassed by one of his sons. He was allegedly ousted from his house property and deprived of his agricultural land. He moved an application before the District Magistrate who delegated it to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to enquire and pass appropriate orders. However, no action was taken by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, the petitioner alleged. Eventually, during the hearing, the Court was informed that his application was rejected as not maintainable.
The Court held that once the District Magistrate had completely delegated his power under Rule 21(2)(i) (Duties and Powers of the District Magistrate) of the Rules to conduct enquiry and decide the application made by petitioner, Sub-Divisional Magistrate had no power to reject the application as not maintainable.
“Instead of passing any order on the merits of the application made by the petitioner, that too despite specific orders passed by this Court, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate has failed to exercise his jurisdiction and in fact he has refused to exercise his jurisdiction by observing that the application itself is not maintainable. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate has acted unmindful of the delegation made by the District Magistrate on the application made by the petitioner,” observed the division bench.
The Court observed that in case of any doubt about the exercise of such power, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate ought to have sought clarification from the District Magistrate and informed the applicant of any such doubt and reference made to that.
“He [SDM] may also issue appropriate communication to the applicant informing him of the delegation thus made. Such steps would be necessary to ensure that the senior citizen is not unduly troubled in that regard and it would also ensure that such senior citizen is not made to run from pillar to post to know the status of his application. In that regard, wherever available, the office of the District Magistrate and/or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (before whom an application may be filed) may keep a record of the details of phone number (landline/mobile number), social media, platform on which such senior citizen may wish to interact with respect to proceedings being instituted by him and his email address for efficient communication of information of notice, etc.”
While disposing of the writ petition, Court directed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to pass order on merits of the case. Further, it was required that the order be placed before the Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, “for proper communication and effective compliance” as several cases of similar nature were coming before the Court.
Case Title: Dr Virendra Singh v. State Of U.P. And 8 Others [WRIT - C No. - 19524 of 2023]
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 333
Counsel for Petitioner: Tripathi B.G. Bhai, Pramod Kumar Singh
Counsel for Respondent: Mukul Tripathi, Sanjeev Kumar Singh
Click Here To Read/Download Order