The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWPSC Act, 2007) is instrumental in upholding the well-being and dignity of senior citizens in India. This legislation ensures financial security, healthcare access, and property protection for the elderly, holding children and relatives responsible for their maintenance to prevent neglect, abandonment, and abuse. The Indian Constitution acknowledges the necessity for State intervention to protect the elderly, as outlined in Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy. This article mandates that the State, within its economic capacity, must provide for the right to work, education, and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disability, and other situations of need.

The MWPSC Act, 2007, embodies the vision of Article 41, aiming to safeguard the rights and interests of senior citizens, ensuring they can live with dignity and respect. Enacted by the Government of India, the Act provides a comprehensive framework for the well-being of the elderly population in the country.

Objectives of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007:

  • Financial Security and Welfare: Provides financial security, protection, and welfare for senior citizens.
  • Child Responsibility: Mandates children to maintain their parents.
  • Government Responsibility: Requires the government to provide old age homes.
  • Protection of Life and Property: Ensures the protection of senior citizens’ life and property.
  • Population Projections: Addresses the needs of the growing elderly population, projected to reach 173.18 million by 2026.
  • Maintenance Tribunals: Authorizes Maintenance Tribunals to direct children to pay maintenance, previously capped at Rs 10,000 per month.
  • Amendment of 2019: Removes the upper limit on the maintenance amount.

Key Features of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007:

  • Maintenance Provision: Ensures maintenance for parents or grandparents based on their needs.
  • Tribunals: Establishes tribunals for settling maintenance claims promptly.
  • No Lawyers: Claimants can file suits without lawyers; Section 17 bars lawyers from tribunal proceedings.
  • Interim Allowance: Tribunals can direct children/relatives to make interim monthly allowances.
  • Timely Disposition: Section 5(4) mandates that cases be disposed of within 90 days, extendable by 30 days under exceptional circumstances.
  • Central and State Review: Central government periodically reviews implementation with state governments.
  • Penal Provisions: Children abandoning parents can face up to 3 months imprisonment or a fine of Rs 5,000, or both.  

Issues faced by Senior Citizens:

  • The Act does not cover son in law or daughter in law within the definition of children thereby excluding them from the responsibility to maintain their in-laws relationships, though they may be the only earning members of the family.
  • The Act provides for the maximum limit of maintenance at INR 10,000/- (Ten Thousand Rupees only). This is insufficient to maintain senior citizens especially in the light of their advanced age and geriatric care which may require round the clock supervision.
  • The law is not sufficient to counter the societal disadvantages faced by the elderly such as ageist attitude of the society, apathy towards geriatric care and lack of digital literacy.
  • Section 17 of the Act bars any legal representation to either party in any proceeding before the Tribunal or Appellate Tribunal. This is repugnant to other legislations such as Advocates Act, 1961 and also may be counter-productive in ensuring the protection of rights of the parties. Especially since the Tribunals established under the MWPSC Act, 2007 have powers to hold inquiry and receive evidence, the bar on advocates in proceedings is more likely to frustrate the scope and object of the Act.
  • The Act does not bind the State government in establishing old age homes or making the schemes for the functioning of old age homes.
  • The Act is also silent on the provision of sensitization of law enforcement authorities such as local police with specific reference to crimes against older persons.

Judicial View

The judiciary has actively protected the rights of the elderly by interpreting the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWPSC Act) in a manner aligned with the Act’s objectives.

Eviction Rights and Property Protection:

  • In Anil Kumar Dhiman vs. State of Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that elderly parents have the right to evict their son and daughter-in-law from their self-acquired property. The court noted that when children mistreat and harass their parents, the parents’ lives are shattered, prompting them to seek redress.
  • The Delhi High Court upheld a similar position in Smt. Darshna vs. Government of NCT of Delhi & Ors..
  • In Ramesh vs. Ishwar Devi, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stated that Section 23 of the MWPSC Act provides sufficient protection of elderly parents’ property against children who abandon them after receiving property.

Legal Representation in Tribunal Proceedings:

  • Section 17 of the MWPSC Act, which bars legal representation in tribunal proceedings, was challenged in several High Courts. It was conclusively held in Paramjit Kumar Saroya vs. Union of India, Tarun Saxena vs. Union of India, and Adv KG Suresh vs. The Union of India* that Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961, allowing for legal representation in all tribunals, supersedes Section 17 of the MWPSC Act. Therefore, advocates can represent elderly persons in tribunal proceedings.

Tribunal Procedures and Authority:

  • The Kerala High Court in GS Manju vs. KS Gopi decided that tribunals under the MWPSC Act must seek the truth and follow an inquisitorial approach. The case involved the revocation of a gift deed, and the court held that the transferor could revoke the gift if the transferee failed to maintain the transferor.
  • In Debashish Mukherjee vs. Sanjib Mukherjee, the court ruled that a gift deed for the transfer of immovable property executed by parents cannot be declared null and void by the tribunal unless it includes a clause requiring the child to maintain the parents. This was similarly held in *Sudesh Chhikara vs. Ramti Devi*.
  • The Maharashtra tribunal was given jurisdiction to pass an eviction order under Section 4 of the Act to protect elderly rights in Mr. Dattatrey Shivaji Mane vs. Mrs. Lilabai Shivaji Mane and Ors..

Supreme Court Guidelines:

  • In Ashwini Kumar vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court issued guidelines emphasizing the importance of the MWPSC Act. These included:
  • Directing the Government of India to collect and report data on old age homes and medical facilities for the elderly.
  • Publicising the MWPSC Act’s provisions to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with ageing.


These rulings and guidelines highlight the judiciary’s commitment to ensuring the protection and welfare of senior citizens as envisioned by the MWPSC Act, 2007.

The elderly population is a valuable segment of society, deserving care, respect, and support in their advanced age. Recognizing their importance and addressing their needs, many countries have enacted legislation to safeguard the welfare and maintenance of senior citizens.

The MWPSC Act, 2007, through the establishment of Maintenance Tribunals, enhances accountability for institutions and individuals responsible for upholding the rights of senior citizens. It provides a platform for promptly resolving disputes and grievances, ensuring justice and protection for the elderly. This act underscores societal values and responsibilities towards the elderly, acknowledging their wisdom, experience, and contributions, and fostering a culture of respect and appreciation for their role in society.

The elderly population (aged 60+ years) was 8.4% of the total population according to the 2011 Census, with projections showing an increase to 14.9% by 2036. This highlights the importance of a robust legislative framework to protect the interests of this marginalized section of society.

Emphasizing familial responsibility and effective grievance redressal mechanisms is crucial as societies age. Continuing to implement and strengthen such laws is essential to uphold the rights and well-being of senior citizens worldwide.

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