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  India   All India  10 Oct 2018  Supreme Court comes to rescue of senior citizens

Supreme Court comes to rescue of senior citizens

Published : Oct 10, 2018, 2:20 am IST
Updated : Oct 10, 2018, 2:20 am IST

The SC also wanted to know whether there was any proposal to increase the old age pension for those below the poverty line.

Supreme Court  (Photo: File | ANI)
 Supreme Court (Photo: File | ANI)

New Delhi: Expressing serious concern over the plight of senior citizens in the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre the steps it had taken to protect the interests of the old and the infirm. It also wanted to know whether there was any proposal to increase the old age pension for those below the poverty line from RS 200 for those above 60 years and Rs 500 for those above the age of 80 years.

A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta passed this order in a PIL filed by the former Union law minister Ashwini Kumar highlighting the plight of senior citizens. Ashwini Kumar informed the court that at least there are six Central legislations enacted for the welfare of senior citizens but the Centre and the states were not doing enough to implement these laws.

Mr Kumar said, “Despite being a Fundamental Right, the elderly in India are dependent upon their family members for basic need such as housing and healthcare. Pertinently, the policies framed by the Government till date, has not addressed this basic issue. He said lack of easy availability of financial assistance coupled with harsh repayment schedules and high rate of interest, the elderly in India are practically ‘disabled’ from affording a basic necessity such as housing and other basic needs to live a life with dignity, thereby, violating their Fundament Right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”   

He wanted a direction to the Centre and states to establish full-time tribunals in every state, as mandated under Section 7 and 15 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Act, to look into applications for maintenance made by senior citizens under Section 4 of the MWP and Senior Citizens Act; to publicise the provisions of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, to effectively implement the “National Programme for Healthcare of the Elderly” throughout India.and create Geriatric Centers in all the 622 districts of India.

Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand informed the court that National Social Assistance Programme has been formulated for grant of pension to the 11 crore elderly people who are BPL. She said three are three crore people, who are above 60 years and eight crore people above 80 years. They are being given a pension of `200/500 and a national level committee under the ministry of rural development was monitoring the scheme implemented by the states.

When Mr. Ashwini Kumar pointed out that Rs. 200/500 was not enough to meet both ends meet, Justice Lokur asked the ASG to inform the court whether there was any proposal to revise the pension. Counsel said as some States are providing Rs. 2,000 as old age pension, the minimum should be revised to Rs. 3,000 and it should be extended to all the elderly persons without restricting it to those BPL.

Justice Lokur told the ASG “prima facie it appears to be a good scheme. You (Centre) can’t wash off your hands saying that it is for the States to implement. You have to monitor and ensure implementation. There appears to be gaps and we have to fill the gaps.  It is not enough to provide funds in the Budget but the amount should be disbursed adequately to the States and there must be grievance redressal mechanism for the elderly people.” The Bench directed the ASG to file an affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

Tags: article 21, provide funds, bpl