Kerala High Court has directed the children to provide welfare measures to a senior citizen, who was in a relationship with their mother. Upholding the order of the Maintenance Tribunal constituted under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque observed, “It is open for the Tribunal to impose a liability for providing “welfare measures” on whom the Tribunal deems fit that it can be imposed, based on the accepted relationship between the parties. Otherwise, the very purpose of the Act would be defeated.”
The petitioners had contended that they were not liable to provide any maintenance or basic amenities to him, as he was neither their parent, nor could he come under the definition of being a biological father/ adoptive or step father. This was because though he was married to the petitioner’s mother, it was at a time when he already had a subsisting marriage at the time of cohabitation with their mother. They had hence argued that nowhere in the Senior Citizens Act, is a liability cast upon the children of the women, with whom the senior citizen has a relationship, to maintain such senior citizen.
The Court noted that while the respondent had a biological son from his wedlock, he was residing with the petitioner’s mother. The Tribunal had hence permitted him to stay in that residence, without any obstruction. No order to pay monetary maintenance was issued.
Justice Mustaque has rejected the argument that the respondent did not fall in the definition of a parent or a relative, as it was of the opinion that such arguments would hold relevance if there is an order to pay maintenance. It further noted that the order passed by the Tribunal was one under Section 2(k) of the Senior Citizens Act for providing “welfare measures” rather than invoking provision for maintenance under Section 2(b) of the Senior Citizens Act. The welfare measures can be imposed against any person, based on the accepted relationship between the parties involving mutual obligations for a considerable time, even though such persons may not have legal obligation to pay the maintenance.
Read the Judgment here.