'Parents, Senior Citizens Bill would not serve any purpose'

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New Delhi, Dec 6 (UNI) The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007, which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha today and supported by most of the members, found a dissenting voice in Independent Member Tarlochan Singh, who accused the Government of relegating its own responsibility towards the elderly to others.

The Bill was pased by the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Mr Singh said the legislation would not serve any purpose for senior citizens as it would not be practical for them to take their complaints to collectors and stand in long queques to be heard and and wait for days for their cases to be disposed of.

Mr Singh said Minister for Social and Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar who had experience of serving in foreign countries must be knowing well what the governments there do for their senior citizens.

''It is a welfare state which should provide for the needs of its elderly citizens instead of bringing in a law that was most likely to remain just on the statute books,' said the Member.

The law, if implemented would give rise to many problems, he argued and specifically referred to the provision of authorising NGOs to take up the cases of neglected parents, which he said was likely to be misused as has been seen in respect of other laws which invloved such voluntary organisations.

However, the Bill found strong support from other members. Mr Gyan Prakash Pilania of the BJP said it was unfortunate that in a country like India where parents were as reverred as gods, a law was needed to make children take care of their parents. ''However, it is better late than never,'' he said.

BS Gnanadesikan of the Congress congratulated the Government for bringing in the Bill. In the present situation when parents were left at home unattended by children going abroad to work, such a law was badly needed, he said.

The clause 23-1, which provides that if a person who has received property of parents or elderly relative by way of gift or settlement would be divested of the right over such property if he or she neglects them was very much needed.

He, however, made a sugestion that the collector or any other revenue official or courts which are already burdened by so much work should not be made appellate authority for senior citizens.

Mr Nand Kishore Yadav of the Samajwadi Party welcomed the Bill, but expressed concern over the apathetic attitude of the society which necessitated the legislation.

Leader of the Shiv Sena Ekanath K Thakur, who supported the Bill also expressed concern over the prevailing values in the Indian society which create a condition in which a law was required to force children to look after their parents and the elderly of the family.

He stressed the need for ushering in reform in the education system to make it more value based.

Mr Tapan Kumar Sen of the CPI-M said the nuclear family which was becoming the norm in the Indian society was creating a situation for the neglect of parents. It was unfortunate that children who made their career out of the sacrifice of their parents should abjure their responsibility towards them.

Earlier, introducing the Bill Ms Meira Kumar said it was a hard social reality that in a number of cases, the elderly were neglected by their children and relatives. Pointing out that the population of senior citizens, those above 60 years of age, was 7.6 crore or 6.9 crore of the polulation and was likely to reach 17.3 crore or 12, per cent of the population by 2026, she said such a large number of people could not not be left uncared for and the law which was being brought in after wide consultations was badly needed to tackle the problem.

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