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No adult child can force his senior citizen parents to allow him to stay in their house. Further, the senior citizen can even invoke the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (Senior Citizens Act), 2007 to evict adult children, if required.
The Bombay High Court clarified this position recently, in a case brought by a son against his aged mother for having initiated maintenance and eviction proceedings against him and his family under the Senior Citizens Act.
On a complaint filed by the senior citizen, the Tribunal for Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens had ordered the eviction of her son and his family, invoking Section 4 of the Act. Section 4 casts a duty on adult children/grandchildren to maintain senior citizens.
The Bombay High Court was called to decide on an appeal filed by the son against the Tribunal’s eviction order.
73-year old Lilabai Shivaji Mane submitted before the High Court that she wanted her son and his family out of her house on account of the mental and physical violence meted out to her by the son and his wife. Against such abuse, Lilabai also informed that she had filed several complaints with the authorities for Domestic Violence over the last ten years.
The son, however, pointed out that none of these complaints had yielded any result. Domestic Violence cases filed by his mother with the Court were dismissed for default. The police had not acted on other complaints filed by his mother.
He contended that the Tribunal had erred in passing an order of eviction against him and his family. It was his case that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction under Section 4 of the Senior Citizens Act to pass such eviction orders, more so since his mother was earning independently and was able to maintain herself.
Justice RD Dhanuka, however, found no merit in any of these defences, ultimately holding that,
“…the respondent no.1 [Lilbai] who is 73 years old cannot be compelled to allow the petitioner and his family members to stay with her. It is exclusively for the respondent no.1 to decide whether she wants to permit the petitioner and his family members to stay with her or not.
In this case, the respondent no.1 has decided not to allow the petitioner and his family members to stay with her in the house owned by her. In my view, the Tribunal was thus fully justified in passing an order of eviction not only against the petitioner but also other family members of the petitioner.”
This was held particularly in view of the strained relations evident between mother and son. It was noted that the domestic violence complaints preferred by the mother before Court were not dismissed on merit, but rather for default. Moreover, the failure of the police to act on a complaint did not necessarily mean that there was no abuse complained of.
Importantly, the judge emphasized that the provisions of the Senior Citizens Act have to be construed liberally and holistically to benefit the senior citizen for whose welfare the Act was introduced. In this light, the Court observed,
“If the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner [son] is accepted by this Court then no senior citizen who has been meted out with harassment and mental torture will be able to recover possession of his/her property from the children or grandchildren during his/her lifetime.
The said Act is enacted for the benefit and protection of the senior citizen from his children or grandchildren…
…In my view, if the respondent no.1 mother who is 73 years old and is a senior citizen, in this situation, is asked to file a civil suit for recovery of possession of the property from her son and his other family members who are not maintaining her but are creating nuisance and causing physical hurt to her, the whole purpose and objects of the said Act would be frustrated.”
In view of the same, it was reiterated Section 4 of the said Act can be invoked to claim relief against not only the senior citizen’s children but also grandchildren. On a holistic reading, such relief would also include eviction of the adult child/grandchild, if it is required to protect the senior citizen.
This position also finds support in the High Court cases of Sunny Paul & Anr v State NCT of Delhi & Ors, Nasir v Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors and Vallabhdas Meswania v Vallabhdas Govindram Meswania.
Therefore, the Court upheld the Tribunal’s eviction order and directed that the son and his family vacate his mother’s house within two weeks. Liberty was also given to the senior citizen to use police assistance to carry out the eviction, if necessary.
Read the judgment: