Modi govt plans higher jail term for those abandoning elderly parents

Pensioner Representational image | PTI

The Narendra Modi government is planning to increase the jail term for those who abandon or abuse their elderly parents to six months from the existing three months, according to a senior official.

The ministry of social justice and empowerment, which is reviewing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, has also proposed widening the definition of children to include adopted children or stepchildren, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, grandchildren and minors represented by their legal guardians, the senior ministry official said.

Only biological children and grandchildren come under the provisions of the existing Act.

The ministry has drafted the the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Draft Bill, 2018, which, once approved, will supersede the existing act.

The draft act also proposes doing away with an upper limit of Rs 10,000 per month as maintenance amount, thus making it variable.

"Those who earn well can and should, of course, shell out a higher amount for the upkeep of their parents. Also, the definition of the term 'maintenance' should go beyond providing food, clothing, housing, healthcare and include safety and security of parents," the official said.

The act in its current form makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents, by monthly allowance of Rs 10,000.

Elderly parents can approach a maintenance tribunal in case their children neglect or refuse to provide maintenance assistance to them.