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Where is the tribunal for senior citizens’ rights?


New Delhi : Where is the tribunal to address the woes of elderly citizens who are shunned and mistreated by their own family, asks septuagenarian Raj Kumari who has been running from court to court to claim maintenance from her sons who threw her out of her home.

The tribunal to deal with such cases under the Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens Act, which came into force almost a year back, is yet to be set up.

“I don’t know where to go or whom to approach to claim maintenance. I have heard that the government has passed an act, but where is the tribunal where we can go to and express our grievances?” Raj Kumari asked.

Her three sons, who are all earning, threw her out of her east Delhi house in 2007 after making her sign on documents. She is forced to stay with her brother, whose family objects to it. Raj Kumari is keen for ways to get government help to get justice and has no money to fight a case.

As per section 5 of the Act, which came into force in September 2008, the tribunal — which can determine cases in which children or relatives have neglected or refused to look after elderly people unable to take care of themselves — should have been in place within six months.

The tribunal was also given powers to ask the children to make a monthly allowance and fix the rate of maintenance for their elderly parents.

According to advocate Amit Sahni, who filed an application under the Right to Information Act, the government has not even initiated the process of establishing the tribunal.

“If this tribunal is established then senior citizens won’t have to bear litigation expenses and will just have to submit an application and then the government will take the necessary action. But the government’s delay in establishing the tribunal is creating hassles for the senior citizens in the capital,” Sahni told IANS.

The Delhi High Court has also pulled up the government for not implementing the act to help the elderly in various cases.

Sahni said sections 24 and 25 of the act provide for the government to take full care of abandoned senior citizens, including medical facilities and other necessary requirements, but it has failed to comply with any of this ever since the act came into force.

The act provides for police to take action against those who dump their parents.