New Delhi, December 14: Calling the rights of elderly persons an ’emerging situation’ not foreseen even by the constitution, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government to provide information about the number of old age homes in each district of the country and file a status report in the same regard on or before 31st August 2019.
The bench of Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta also issued a set of directions ordering the Centre to obtain details from the States about the medical and geriatric care facilities available to senior citizens in each district.
This came after a writ petition was filed by former Law Minister Dr. Ashwini Kumar seeking enforcement of the
rights of elderly persons under Article 21 of the Constitution. The petitioner made several prayers in the writ
petition including pension, shelter, geriatric care and medical facilities for the elderly and effective implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (‘MWP Act’).
Even though the MWP Act came into force in 2007 and more than a decade has passed since then, serious efforts have not been made by the Government of India or by the State Governments to ensure that medical facilities for the elderly and geriatric care are made available.
The bench was of the view that it is pertinent to issue some initial directions to enable recognition and enforcement of rights of the elderly. It also entrusted the Central Government to exercise its power in the regard and issue appropriate directions to the State Governments for the effective implementation of the provisions of the MWP Act.
On the issue of inadequate welfare provided to senior citizens, it directed the Government of India and the State Governments to revisit the grant of pension to the elderly so that it is more realistic, depending upon the availability of finances and the economic capacity. It also submitted that linking pension to the index of inflation may not be
appropriate since the pension provided is a welfare measure.
It also directed that on the basis of the information gathered by the Union of India, a plan of action should be prepared for giving publicity to the provisions of the MWP Act to make senior citizens aware of the provisions of the Act and the constitutional and statutory rights of senior citizens.
According to the census report, the number of elderly people has increased from 1.98 crores in 1951 to 7.6 crore in 2001 and 10.38 crore in 2011. It is projected that the number of 60+ in India would increase to 14.3 crores in 2021 and 17.3 crores in 2026.
The Court has directed the Additional Solicitor General for India to file a status report with respect to the directions issued on Thursday by January 31, 2019.
Read the judgment below:[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.lawchronicles.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/6532_2016_Judgement_13-Dec-2018.pdf”]