In the first ever case under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, that came into effect on October 1 this year on International Senior Citizens’ Day, the Maintenance Tribunal of the Central District of Delhi on Tuesday ordered the son and daughter-in-law of a septuagenarian man to vacate his house in Prasad Nagar here after he accused them of ill-treating and harassing him and his wife.

A senior Delhi Government official said the case acquires significance since following the Lotika Sarkar case attempts are being made to protect the rights of senior citizens across the country. Under the new Act, even a gift deed can be invalidated by the maintenance tribunals. These tribunals are also empowered to impose penalties up to Rs.10,000 and award up to three months’ imprisonment.

Seventy-two-year-old Komal Singh, a resident of 40-B, LIG Flats, Prasad Nagar, in his complaint had stated that his 34-year-old son Brijesh and 33-year-old daughter-in-law Manpreet Kaur live along with him with their only child.

He complained that Brijesh, his only son, got married in November 2003 to Manpreet Kaur and they requested that they be allowed to stay in the family house for a month after their marriage. However, they did not vacate the house thereafter and started harassing the petitioner by direct and indirect methods, Mr. Singh charged.

Ill-treatment

The senior citizen also submitted that his wife, who is about 66 years old, is disabled and suffers from cardiac problems and diabetes. He charged that she had also been ill-treated and harassed by his son and daughter in-law. He also complained to the Tribunal that he and his wife had been subjected to physical cruelty and torture and complaints had been made to the local police in this regard.

The Tribunal, comprising Additional District Magistrate and Presiding Officer A. V. Prem Nath and Members C. P. Gupta and N. N. Dewan, ordered the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Karol Bagh to submit a fact-finding report and on going through it said the petitioner had genuine safety concerns and was feeling intimidated by the opposite party who happen to be his own son and daughter-in-law.

It said that “as a responsible father who brought up his only son and got him married twice and planned for his rosy future’’, the applicant and his ailing wife had “initiated some steps in order to work constructively together to heal their family feud. But the same required a commitment from his son and daughter-in-law who were not reciprocating’’.

Noting that “Brijesh Kumar and his wife have not refrained from soliciting other people’s support to their ‘cause’ of evicting their parents from the latter’s house’’, the Tribunal said it was “unable to effect reconciliation or push for any healing process or sit as mediator between the fighting parties’’.

One week’s time

Satisfied that there were “reasonable grounds’’ to believe that “there has been family violence, ill-treatment and cruelty against applicant/petitioner; there is a risk of further violence by respondents Brijesh Kumar and his wife if they continue to live in the house owned by the applicant/petitioner; and there is a risk or threat to life of applicant/petitioner and his ailing wife if there is to be a delay in not restoring his legally owned house to the applicant/petitioner who is 72 years old’’, the Tribunal ordered the young couple to vacate the flat within one week.

It also directed the Station House Officer of the Prasad Nagar police station to ensure this without fail and file the compliance report before the Registrar or a Designated Officer of the Tribunal by October 28.

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