NHRC pulls up states, UTs over law for elderly

Senior citizens are still not able to avail of the benefits of legislation formulated seven years ago for their protection, as many states have not set up appropriate machinery for its proper implementation.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has now taken up the issue and has sought a report from all states and Union Territories regarding the action taken in enforcing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

The NHRC is of the view that some state governments are not implementing the provisions of the law in its true spirit, leading to violation of human rights.

With entrusted officers having “no time” to deal with senior citizens, the NHRC made note of the need for full-time officers in the capacity of a maintenance officer at the sub-division level.

The commission has given the states six weeks' time to inform it whether they have constituted maintenance tribunals, appellate tribunals and old-age homes, as well as ensured medical support for senior citizens.

The law provides that governments shall establish old-age homes for indigent senior citizens. It also states that a government hospital, or a hospital funded fully or partially by it, shall provide beds for all senior citizens as far as possible for the treatment of chronic, terminal and degenerative diseases.

As per the information available, 25 states and all Union Territories have brought the Act into force.

Out of them, 19 states and six Union Territories, including Karnataka and Delhi, have set up maintenance and appellate tribunals, while Arunachal Pradesh has formed an appellate tribunal. Uttar Pradesh and some north-eastern states have not set up these tribunals.

According to a government report, the elderly accounted for 7.4 per cent of India's total population in 2001. Both the share and size of elderly population have increased over time. From 5.6 per cent in 1961, it is projected to rise to 12.4 per cent of the population by 2026.

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