Aging is a natural process, which leads to weakening of the body and the mind. The productivity and the working ability also decreases of a person. It is the duty of the state as well as the family of a person to take care of him in his old age. However, due to rampant illiteracy and lack of awareness, many senior citizens are not aware of their rights. This www.thesocialhelp.com seeks to discuss the rights and facilities available to the elderly. It also discusses the policies and initiatives taken by various ministries.
Ageing is a natural process, which inevitably occurs in human life cycle. It brings with a host of challenges in the life of the elderly, which are mostly engineered by the changes in their body, mind, thought process and the living patterns, Ageing refers to a decline in the functional capacity of the organs of the human body . Which occurs mostly due to physiological transformation . it never imply that everything has been finished . The senior citizens constitute a precious reservoir of such human resource as is gifted with knowledge of various sorts, varied experiences and deep insights. May be they have formally retired , yet an overwhelming majority of them are physically fit and mentally alart, Hence given an appropriate opportunity majority of them are physically fit and mentally alert . Hence , given an appropriate opportunity , they are in a position to make significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their nation.
The population of the elderly persons has been increasing over the years. As per the UNESCO estimates, the number of the aged (60+) is likely to 590 million in 2005. The figure will double by 2025. By 2025, the world will have more elderly than young people and cross two billion mark by 2050. In India also, the population of elder persons has increased form nearly 2 crores in 1951 to 7.2 crores in 2001. In other words about 8% of the total population is above 60 years. The figure will cross 18 % mark by 2025.
A service holder faces a lot of problems, after age of superannuation, as follows: -
1. Economic problems, include such problems as loss of employment, income deficiency and economic insecurity.
2. Physical and physiological problems, include health and medical problems, nutritional deficiency, and the problem of adequate housing etc.
3. Psycho-social problem which cover problems related with their psychological and social maladjustment as well as the problem of elder abuse etc.
The question of ageing was first debated at the United Nations in 1948 at the initiative of Argentina. The issue was again raised by Malta in 1969. In 1971 the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report on the elderly and to suggest guideline for the national and international action. In 1978, Assembly decided to hold a World Conference on the Ageing. Accordingly, the World Assembly on Ageing was held in Vienna from July 26 to August 6, 1982 wherein an International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted. The overall goal of the Plan was to strengthen the ability of individual countries to deal effectively with the ageing in their population, keeping in mind the special concerns and needs of the elderly. The Plan attempted to promote understanding of the social, economic and cultural implications of ageing and of related humanitarian and developed issues. The International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted by the General Assembly in 1982 and the Assembly in subsequent years called on governments to continue to implement its principles and recommendations. The Assembly urged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to ensure that follow-up action to the Plan is carried out effectively.
In 1992, the U.N.General Assembly adopted the proclamation to observe the year 1999 as he International Year of the Older Persons.
The U.N.General Assembly has declared “Ist October” as the International Day for the Elderly, later rechristened as the International Day of the Older Persons.
The U.N.General Assembly on December 16, 1991 adopted 18 principles which are organized into 5 clusters, namely-independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment, and dignity of the older persons.
These principles provide a broad framework for action on ageing. Some of the Principles are as follows
Older Persons should have the opportunity to work and determine when to leave the work force.
Older Persons should remain integrated in society and participate actively in the formulation of policies which effect their well-being.
Older Persons should have access to health care to help them maintain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Older Persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential and have access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society.
Older Persons should be able to live in dignity and security and should be free from exploitation and mental and physical abuse.
THE MAINTENANCE AND WELFARE OF PARENTS AND SENIOR CITIZENS ACT, 2007
PENSIONERS' PORTAL ↓
(Government of India)
(All the information regarding the status, procedure, documents required, as to the application for pension. Complaints.)
THE MAINTENANCE AND WELFARE OF PARENTS AND SENIOR CITIZENS ACT, 2007↓
(I) Constitutional Protection:
Art. 41 : Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases : The State shall, within the limits of economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.
Art. 46 : Promotion of educational and economic interests of ……. and other weaker sections : The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
However, these provision are included in the Chapter IV i.e., Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution. The Directive Principles, as stated in Article 37, are not enforceable by any court of law. But Directive Principles impose positive obligations on the state, i.e., what it should do. The Directive Principles have been declared to be fundamental in the governance of the country and the state has been placed under an obligation to apply them in making laws. The courts however cannot enforce a Directive Principle as it does not create any justiciable right in favour of any individual. It is most unfortunate that state has not made even a single Act which are directly related to the elderly persons.
(II) Legal Protections:
Under Personal Laws:
The moral duty to maintain parents is recognized by all people. However, so far as law is concerned, the position and extent of such liability varies from community to community.
(I) Hindus Laws:
Amongst the Hindus, the obligation of sons to maintain their aged parents, who were not able to maintain themselves out of their own earning and property, was recognized even in early texts. And this obligation was not dependent upon, or in any way qualified, by a reference to the possession of family property. It was a personal legal obligation enforceable by the sovereign or the state. The statutory provision for maintenance of parents under Hindu personal law is contained in Sec 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. This Act is the first personal law statute in India, which imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. As is evident from the wording of the section, the obligation to maintain parents is not confined to sons only, and daughters also have an equal duty towards parents. It is important to note that only those parents who are financially unable to maintain themselves from any source, are entitled to seek maintenance under this Act.
(II) Muslim Law:
Children have a duty to maintain their aged parents even under the Muslim law. According to Mulla :
(a) Children in easy circumstances are bound to maintain their poor parents, although the latter may be able to earn something for themselves.
(b) A son though in strained circumstances is bound to maintain his mother, if the mother is poor, though she may not be infirm.
(c) A son, who though poor, is earning something, is bound to support his father who earns nothing. According to Tyabji, parents and grandparents in indigent circumstances are entitled, under Hanafi law, to maintenance from their children and grandchildren who have the means, even if they are able to earn their livelihood. Both sons and daughters have a duty to maintain their parents under the Muslim law. The obligation, however, is dependent on their having the means to do so.
(III) Christian And Parsi Law:
The Christians and Parsis have no personal laws providing for maintenance for the parents. Parents who wish to seek maintenance have to apply under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
(III) Under The Code of Criminal Procedure:
Prior to 1973, there was no provision for maintenance of parents under the code. The Law Commission, however, was not in favour of making such provision. According to its report:
The Cr.P.C is not the proper place for such a provision. There will be considerably difficulty in the amount of maintenance awarded to parents apportioning amongst the children in a summary proceeding of this type. It is desirable to leave this matter for adjudication by civil courts.
The provision, however, was introduced for the first time in Sec. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1973. It is also essential that the parent establishes that the other party has sufficient means and has neglected or refused to maintain his, i.e., the parent, who is unable to maintain himself. It is important to note that Cr.P.C 1973, is a secular law and governs persons belonging to all religions and communities. Daughters, including married daughters, also have a duty to maintain their parents.
(IV) Governmental Protections:
1. The Government of India approved the National Policy for Older Persons on January 13, 1999 in order to accelerate welfare measures and empowering the elderly in ways beneficial for them. This policy included the following major steps :
Setting up of a pension fund for ensuring security for those persons who have been serving in the unorganized sector,
Construction of old age homes and day care centers for every 3-4 districts,
Establishment of resource centers and re-employment bureaus for people above 60 years,
Concessional rail/air fares for travel within and between cities, i.e.,30% discount in train and 50% in Indian Airlines.
Enacting legislation for ensuring compulsory geriatric care in all the public hospitals.
2. The Ministry of Justice and Empowerment has announced regarding the setting up of a National Council for Older Person, called agewell Foundation. It will seek opinion of aged on measures to make life easier for them.
3. Attempts to sensitise school children to live and work with the elderly. Setting up of a round the clock help line and discouraging social ostracism of the older persons are being taken up.
4. The government policy encourages a prompt settlement of pension, provident fund (PF), gratuity, etc. in order to save the superannuated persons from any hardships. It also encourages to make the taxation policies elder sensitive.
5. The policy also accords high priority to their health care needs.
6. According to Sec.88-B, 88-D and 88-DDB of Income Tax Act there are discount in tax for the elderly persons.
7. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has also been providing several scheme for the benefit of aged persons, i.e., Jeevan Dhara Yojana, Jeevan Akshay Yojana, Senior Citizen Unit Yojana, Medical Insurance Yojana.
8. Former Prime Minister A.B.Bajpai was also launch ‘Annapurana Yojana’ for the benefit of aged persons. Under this yojana unattended aged persons are being given 10 kg food for every month.
9. It is proposed to allot 10 percent of the houses constructed under government schemes for the urban and rural lower income segments to the older persons on easy loan.
THE POLICY MENTIONS
The layout of the housing colonies will respond to the needs and life styles of the elderly so that there is no physical barriers to their mobility; they are allotted ground floor; and their social interaction with older society members exists.
Despite all these attempts, there is need to impress upon the elderly about the need to adjust to the changing circumstances in life and try to live harmoniously with the younger generation as for as possible.
It may be pointed out that recently the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that the benefits conferred on a Government employee, who is disabled during his/her service period, under Section 47 of Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995 cannot be confined only seven types of medical conditions defined as ‘disability’ in the Act. The seven medical conditions are blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impaired, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. A Division Bench comprising Justice F.M.Ibrahim and Justice K.Venkataraman said : “We feel that the court cannot shut its eyes if a person knocks at its doors claiming relief under the Act. In a welfare State like India, the benefits of benevolent legislation cannot be denied on the ground of mere hyper technicalities. It may be noted that this Act is not directly related to aged person but seven medical conditions which prescribed in this Act are the common symptom of the aged person.
BENEFITS UNDER TAX LAWS
Senior citizens are entitled to certain tax benefits also. Some of the beneficial provisions of discussed herein.
The income tax slabs are different for senior citizens and super senior citizens. Income up to 3 lakhs for senior citizens and 5 lakhs for super-senior citizens is tax-free while 10% of income tax is levied on the income of 3-5 lakhs in case of senior citizens. (senior citizens: above 60 years of age, super seniors citizens: above 80 years of age)
The deduction allowed for payment of medical insurance premium is 20,000 for senior citizens under Section 80D of Income Tax Act, 1961.
In case the senior citizen does not have business income, they are exempted from paying Advance tax. They are only required to pay self-assessment tax.
Deduction under section 80D as to deduction for the treatment of specified ailment is 60,000 for senior citizens.
The amount received by a senior citizen under reserve mortgage scheme is exempted from income tax.
Other Schemes for senior citizens
Under the National Old-age Pension Scheme Central Government is to pay a pension of INR 200 to senior citizens belonging to the BPL household. Another INR 200 is provided by the State Government.
The railway ministry provides a concession of 30% and 50% in railway fare to male and female senior citizen respectively above the age of 60 years.
The Civil Aviation Ministry provides a concession up to 50% for male senior citizen above 65 years of age and female senior citizen above 63 years of age through the National Carrier and Air India.
A public portal has been set up by the department of pensions and pensioner grievances which aims at providing all the information regarding the status, procedure, documents required, as to the application for pension. Complaints can also be lodged through the portal.
Apart from all these schemes and facilities, there are certain measures taken by the government under National Policy on Older Persons, 1999 whereby a separate bureau in the ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for the senior citizens was set up. It also aimed at setting up of councils of older persons in the states, National Council for older persons and an autonomous National Association of Older Persons. These bodies are established to look into the problems of the elderly and work towards their solution.
FEDERAL LAW ON THE RIGHTS OF SENIOR CITIZENS
The UAE government has adopted Federal Law No. 9 of 2019 regarding the rights of senior citizens. According to the law, the term senior citizens applies to anyone who holds the nationality of the UAE and has reached the age of 60. The law aims to ensure that senior citizens enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, information and services related to their rights and provide them with psychological, social and health care and stability. Sharjah city as one of the seven emirates follows this law to the right of the senior citizen and as an age friendly city.
The law guarantees the following rights for senior citizens: .
– The right of independence and privacy, including their right to make decisions regarding their property and place of residence, among others. .
– The right of protection from violence, abuse and neglect. .
– The right of a qualified environment, housing, education and work, and enhancing the benefit from their capabilities and integrating them with society in all its age groups. .
– The right of social services through institutions of senior citizens, clubs, community centers and mobile care units. .
-The right of health care through the provision of preventive health care and insurance, home nursing and supportive devices. .
-The right of preferential treatment which include giving the elderly a priority in housing request and completing the governmental document, obtaining medical aid, health service etc. .
-The law stipulates penalties that include imprisonment, fine or both for every service provider who neglects his duties and committed violence or abuse against senior citizen. Likewise, anyone who knows of any of the crimes referred to the law not punished and did not immediately inform the Ministry of the community development or the nearest police station. .