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Rights of elderly persons must be recognised and implemented, SC tells Centre

ANI | Updated: Dec 13, 2018 18:52 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 13 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Monday urged the Centre to take stock of the condition of old age homes across the country. The top court was hearing a plea seeking enforcement of the rights of elderly persons under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Apex Court also directed the Central government to obtain necessary information from all the states and Union Territories and file a status report in the connection by January 31.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta issued these directives while hearing a PIL filed by the former union minister and senior advocate Ashwini Kumar seeking direction for the adequate number of old age homes across the country and maintenance and operation of such homes with adequate standards.
Kumar had also sought direction for the top court arguing that there should be nationwide uniformity in the pension to elderly people.
The court also asked the Centre to obtain from all the state governments the details of medical facilities and geriatric care facilities that are made available to senior citizens in each district.
"On the basis of the information gathered by the Union of India as detailed in the status reports, a plan of action should be prepared for giving publicity to the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWPSC Act) and making senior citizens aware of the provisions of the said Act and the constitutional and statutory rights of senior citizens," stated the judgment.
Section 30 of the MWPSC Act enables the government of India to issue appropriate directions to the state governments to carry out and execute the provisions of the MWPSC Act, remarked the top court.
"The Central government must exercise its power in this regard and issue appropriate directions to the state governments for the effective implementation of the provisions of the MWP Act. Alongside this, the Central government must, in terms of Section 31 of the MWP Act, conduct a review for the purposes of monitoring the progress in implementation of the MWP Act by the State Governments," the court said.
Some of the schemes for senior citizens are comparatively dated, said the bench, adding that it's the "high time that the government of India has a relook at these schemes" and perhaps overhaul them with a view to bring about convergence and avoid multiplicity.
The apex court also said that in particular, the Government of India and the state governments must revisit the grant of pension to the elderly so that it is more realistic, and this would depend upon the availability of finances and the economic capacity of the Centre and the states.
In its judgment, the bench also observed that a set of directions issued by this court will not fulfil the constitutional mandate or the mandate of the MWPSC Act. It asserted that there is a need to continuously monitor the progress in the implementation of the constitutional mandate to make available to the elderly, their right to live with dignity and to provide them with reasonable accommodation, medical facilities and geriatric care.
"While this may take some time, the only available solution is a continuing mandamus which is a well-recognised practice and procedure adopted by this court in several cases to ensure that the rights of the people are respected, recognized and enforced and that social justice as postulated by the preamble in the Constitution is given meaning and teeth," stated the judgement.
Kumar had earlier told the apex court that he had failed as a parliamentarian and minister but did not want to fail as a citizen. He had contended that in 2007, the Centre had fixed Rs 200 as pension to senior citizens aged between 60 to 79 while a person of 80-year-old and above was given a pension of Rs 500 only. (ANI)