Himachal Pradesh High Court
Himachal Pradesh High Court
Litigation News

Seniors more prone to contracting COVID-19: Plea seeking notification of Senior Citizens Act in Himachal Pradesh; HC issues notice

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central and state governments in a plea seeking the immediate notification of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

(Petition- Ajai Kumar)

(Himachal Pradesh High Court Senior Citizens Act notice)

The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Sureshwar Thakur and Chander Bhusan Barowalia, which sought responses from both the governments within two weeks.

The plea states that though the Central law for senior citizens had been implemented nationwide, it was not notified in the state yet. It was further stated that Himachal Pradesh had its own legislation - the Himachal Pradesh Maintenance of Parents and Dependents Act, 2001 - which not only has limited application, but is also repugnant to the Central Act.

Additionally, it was stated that despite a lapse of more than 13 years from the date of promulgation of the 2007 Central Act, the same not been notified in Himachal Pradesh, thereby depriving senior citizens of welfare measures envisaged under the Central Act.

It was further averred that the State Act only provided for maintenance to parents, wives, and children, and compelled individuals to fulfil their moral obligation. On the other hand, the Central Act is more comprehensive and wider in nature than the State Act, the petition points out.

"...The provision of Act of 2007 are more comprehensive, beneficial and detailed and provide for far greater relief in comparison with the State Act of 2001. A perusal of both the Acts will prima facie, show that the Act of 2007 is much wider in its application and has been enacted for the maintenance and welfare of parents as well as senior citizens, in terms of Constitutional mandate guaranteed by the Constitution of India."

The plea also drew attention to the fact that Parliament had enacted the 2007 Act in order to protect and safeguard the rights of senior citizens, in compliance with the mandate laid down in Articles 38 and 41 of the Constitution.

Adding on to its array of submissions, it was contended that the State Act of 2001 did not even provide for a definition of a "senior citizen", as opposed to the 2007 Act, which clearly states defines senior citizen as a citizen of India above the age of sixty five years.

Referring to theHome Ministry advisories and guidelines issued from time to time for the containment of COVID-19, the petitioners argue that "the implementation of Central Act of 2007 has assumed further significance in view of the spread of pandemic COVID-19 which has resulted in the state of declaration of lockdown all over India".

It is stated that amid the pandemic, many senior citizens who are living alone or having children living abroad are forced to step out of their homes for groceries, banking, and medical facilities, while the Home Ministry has compelled senior citizens to stay indoors. In view of their increased vulnerability, there is likelihood of them getting infected with COVID-19, which may prove fatal to them, the petition states.

In this backdrop, the petition seeks to direct the government to ensure the effective implementation of the Central Act, which shall also be a step towards providing essential services at home to senior citizens within the state of Himachal Pradesh.

On these grounds, the plea seeks to direct the government to declare the Himachal Pradesh Maintenance of Parents and Dependents Act, 2001 to be repugnant to the the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Advocates Arjun Lall and Shradha Karol will appear for the petitioners in the matter.

Read the petition here

Petition- Ajai Kumar.pdf

Read the order

HP HC Senior Citizens Act notice.pdf
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