Senior Citizens Cannot Be Used As Commodity Or Chattel By Their Children: Karnataka HC [Read Order]
The Karnataka High Court recently rejected a petition filed by a Mysuru woman against her 82-year-old mother, asserting that it is the “duty and dharma” of children to take care of their aged parents.
The order was passed by Justice B. Veerappa on a petition filed by a woman, ND Vanamala, challenging an order passed by the Assistant Commissioner (AC) in November last year, whereby a gift deed executed by her mother was annulled.
The mother had executed the gift deed bequeathing her property share in favour of her daughter in July, 2015. However, in March, 2017, the AC annulled the gift deed after the mother submitted a complaint under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 alleging that her daughter was neglecting her.
Vanamala’s appeal against this decision was also rejected by the Deputy Commissioner. She then moved the high court, submitting that she had been taking care of her mother and had been paying Rs. 3,000 to her every month for her day to day expenses.
The mother, on the other hand, had submitted that she is the sole and absolute owner in possession and enjoyment of the property in question. She had alleged that her daughter had stopped taking care of her as soon as the gift deed was executed, and that the initial love and affection shown by the daughter was only to convince her to transfer the property.
The question now posed before the court was whether the AC was justified in canceling the gift deed, exercising his power under the provisions of the 2007 Act.
Answering the question in the positive, the court noted that Section 23 of the Act makes it clear that even if a property has been transferred as a gift, the transferee shall provide basic amenities and needs to the transferor. The provisions, in fact, make it clear that if the transferee refuses or fails to provide such amenities, the transfer could be held to be made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence.
The court went on to reject the contention that such condition for nullifying the transfer should have been present in the gift deed, observing, “The main object of the ‘Act’ is to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution of India and to protect the Senior Citizens at the fag end of their life. Even otherwise, it is the Duty and Dharma of the children to take care of their aged parents.”
The court, therefore upheld the impugned order.
“Senior citizens cannot be used as commodity or chattel”
The court also pondered upon the object behind the Act and the role of the court in effecting this object, observing,
“The legislators enacted the provisions of the ‘Act’ and ‘Rules’ thereunder to ensure proper care and safety of senior citizens. Inspite of the said provisions enacted by the legislature, the “Court or the Authority cannot follow the proposition of “wait and watch” by sitting on the fence and it is not expected that the senior citizens will run from pillar to post and the assault and abuses by their children would be allowed to be continued and senior citizens cannot be used as commodity or chattel by their children.
“…The children forget the fact that the child become adult and the adult become old. That is the process of life and ultimately, the life is like a horse cart.”
Before parting, the court emphasised on the need for parents to allow holistic development of their children, asserting, “The children are the most important human resources whose development has a direct impact on the development of the nation for the child today with suitable health, sound education and constructive environment is the productive key member of the society. The children are the treasures of their parents and parents should develop love and affection towards the children, grandchildren, burying their egoistic attitude and they should concentrate towards ‘dhyana’ at the fag end of their life.”
It added that there would be no possibility of a rift if there is mutual love and affection between the children and their parents:
“It is only a mutual love and affection between the two. If there is love and affection between two, there cannot be any rift in the family and there would be no question of either children going against the parents or parents going against the children to the Court to protect their rights including invoking the provisions of the ‘Act’.
“The parents shall create a good atmosphere in the family by their love and affection to regain the confidence of children, daughter-in-law, grand children. The children also should understand the fact that without their parents, they would not have been on the earth and would not have enjoyed the educational prospects including job, wealth and other luxuriousness. It is only the parents’ contribution.”