Abusing elderly parents may soon land you in jail

The bill defines 'abuse' as physical, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, neglect and abandonment, causing assault, injury, physical or mental suffering.

Abusing elderly parents may land you in jail for up to six months as the government on Wednesday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to ensure welfare of parents and senior citizens.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill also has provisions for the elderly to claim maintenance and for mandatory registration of senior citizens’ care homes and other such institutions which will have to comply with prescribed minimum standards.

The bill, introduced by Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot, defines “abuse” as physical, verbal, emotional and economic abuse, neglect and abandonment, causing assault, injury, physical or mental suffering.

“Children” in relation to a parent or a senior citizen means son or daughter, whether biological, adoptive or stepchild, and includes son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter and legal guardians of minor children.

The bill describes “parent” as father or mother, whether biological, adoptive or stepparent and includes father-in-law, mother-in-law and grandparents, whether or not senior citizens.

The bill proposes to establish a tribunal for senior citizens to file claims for maintenance and assistance with clear directions to dispose of applications from those above 80 years of age within 60 days.

Once the bill is approved by both Houses of Parliament, the government will appoint a nodal officer at each police station, not below the rank of an assistant sub-inspector, to deal with issues relating to parents and senior citizens.

Similarly, each district will have a special police unit for senior citizens’ welfare, and such a unit will have to be headed by a police officer not below the rank of DSP.

The state government has to appoint a maintenance officer to ensure the implementation of the order of maintenance. The officer shall be a point of contact for the parent or senior citizen to liaison and coordinate with them.

As per the new legislation, senior citizens’ care homes, multi-service daycare centres and institutions providing home care services for the elderly will have to be registered with the relevant authorities and follow the prescribed standards.

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