Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which aims to provide for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens for ensuring their basic needs, safety and security, establishment, management, and regulation of institutions and services, and rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The Bill, which seeks to amend the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, removes the ceiling of Rs10,000 as maintenance and includes the preference to dispose of applications of senior citizens, above 80 years of age. It also proposes registration of senior citizens care homes and home care service agencies and also seeks to ensure that minimum standards are maintained at senior citizen care homes.
The bill includes the appointment of nodal police officers for senior citizens at every police station and district-level special police unit with a helpline for senior citizens.
Non-government organisations working for the welfare of elders have welcomed the move. “The approval of the new bill is a long awaited. With more than 135 million elderly people, India today has the second-largest population of senior citizens who deserve care and concern. The fast-paced and ever-changing life of today is continuously widening the gap between generations and thus the creation of a happy environment for the elderly is our traditional, moral, and now even legal responsibility," said Himanshu Rath, chairman, Agewell Foundation.
“The changes being brought are welcome to improve the law but the appeal process has made senior citizens wait a long time for justice. I wish they had allowed no appeal as once lawyers are involved delays are bound to occur," said Mathew Cherian, chief executive officer of HelpAge India.