Come New Year, the aged and infirm would have a special reason to smile as the State Government has framed Rules for effective implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The Rules, framed under Section 32 of the Central enactment, would be notified in the Government Gazette “any time”, according to P. Rama Mohana Rao, Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme.
Speaking to The Hindu over phone from Chennai, he said that the Rules were framed long time back. But they could not be notified due to the by-elections held recently in Vandavasi and Tiruchendur Assembly constituencies.
The Rules would lay down the procedures and manner in which the tribunals should hold enquiries while dealing with applications filed by parents against their children and childless senior citizens against their relatives for maintenance.
They would also provide for a scheme for management of old age homes that might be established by the State Government, as stipulated under Section 19 of the Act, for housing indigent senior citizens who do not have means to maintain themselves.
Under the enactment, parents could claim provision of food, clothing, residence, medical attendance or treatment from their one or all of their children and even grand children provided that the latter were above 18 years of age.
The Act further states that childless senior citizens above the age of 60 could claim similar benefits from their legal heirs who were in possession of the former’s properties or would inherit the properties after their death.
Section 24 of the Act states that whoever leaves senior citizens in any place with the intention of wholly abandoning them could be imprisoned for a maximum of three months or with a fine of Rs.5,000 or both.
K. Ram Prabhu of a non-governmental organisation working for the welfare of the aged said that it was heartening to know that the Tamil Nadu Government has decided to notify the Rules which were eagerly awaited for the last two years.
Replying to a query made by him under the Right to Information Act, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on November 13 said that Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal and Delhi had notified the Rules.
M. Ajmal Khan, a lawyer practising in the Madras High Court Bench here, felt that the State Government should give wide publicity to the legislation because ignorance of law was not a valid defence under the fundamental principles of jurisprudence.
“The courts may accept if one says that he does not know the colour of milk. This is ignorance of fact. But they will not accept if one claims that he was unaware of punishment for selling adulterated milk. So knowing the law is very important,” he added.