Thiruvananthapuram: The government of Kerala is set to amend a central Act to provide more powers to the elderly to take back the property that have been transferred to their children, who fail to take care of their indigent parents.
Currently, parents could take back the property only if it was handed over with the condition that it would be reclaimed if the children did not take care of the dependent parents. Kerala included the clause to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, in 2009.
Once the clause is dropped, the elderly could take back any property handed over to the children with the help of the Maintenance Tribunal. Kerala's move gains relevance in the light of several elderly parents being abandoned, or ignored. Hundreds of senior citizens would benefit from the amendment.
Currently, the property handed over to children could not be taken back if the clause -- the property would be reclaimed -- is not included in the partition deed, even if the Tribunal rules in favour of senior citizens. The proposed amendment would help in overcoming the legal hurdle.
The Social welfare Department has prepared a draft of the amendment, which would be enacted after getting the approval of the Law Department.
Meanwhile, the central government, too, has been in the process of amending the Act. If the Centre amends the Act, Kerala would follow suit and make necessary changes. If the Centre's move is delayed, Kerala would go ahead with its plan and amend the Act.
The proposed amendment would enable the litigant parents and children to approach the Maintenance Tribunal directly without the help of an advocate. Currently, advocates have been appearing before the Tribunal citing other Tribunals that allow advocates. There are complaints that the intervention of advocates prolong the legal process, giving little scope for a settlement.
Kerala tops in litigation
The State has the most number of cases registered under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Last year, the Tribunal considered 8,121 cases, including those pending ones from the previous years.
Kerala had received the Centre's "Vayoshreshtha Samman" in 2021 for effectively implementing the senior citizen's Act. The Samman, instituted by the central government honours eminent senior citizens and institutions involved in rendering distinguished services for the cause of elderly persons, especially senior citizens in need.
In Kerala, 27 Revenue Divisional Officers have been functioning as the Tribunal, with the district collectors as the appellate authority. The High Court could be approached if the ruling of the Tribunal and appellate authority is not satisfactory.
Cases in Kerala (as of 2021)
New cases: 3,641
Pending cases from previous cases: 4,480
Reconciled cases: 556
Claims upheld: 2,821
Claims rejected: 855
Settled cases (Total): 4,232
Pending cases: 3,889