New Delhi, Sep 30 (UNI) Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar today said the Government was making all-out efforts to ensure the implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 by all states as soon as possible.
Ms Kumar told the fifth meeting of the National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) here that she was personally following up the issue with all the Chief Ministers.
The meeting had been organised on the eve of the International Day of the Elderly, celebrated on October 1.
As a result, 11 States had already notified the Act and some were in the process of framing appropriate rules for this Act, said Ms Kumar.
''Safeguarding the rights of the elderly is an issue of paramount concern today for all of us. Therefore, to deter inhuman incidents against them by their families, we have included penal provisions such as jail for three months in case of abandoning them informed,'' Ms Kumar said.
She stressed that the main aim of the legislation was to create an enabling mechanism to make the claim for maintenance simpler, speedier and cheaper, and that was the reason it provided for the establishment of tribunals presided by an officer not lower in rank than the Sub-Divisional Officer (civil). The District Magistrate Level Officer will be the appellate authority.
The Tribunal was also empowered to take suo moto cognisance of the plight of the persons. The disposal of claims had been made time bound and Tribunals would follow summary procedure, the Minister pointed out.
''There are several instances where a member of the family or a relative, get the property of a senior citizen transferred in their name either on the pretext of looking after them or by coercion and leave such senior person uncared. To address such problems, the Act has provisions to declare such transfers void and the senior citizens can claim their property back,'' said Ms Kumar.
She stressed the need for old age homes, saying some older people might be without any family support or their children might all be settled aboard, or they might not be able to live amicably with their children for certain reasons.
The Act, therefore, provided for setting up of old age homes by the state governments in a phased manner. The Act also proposed to provide better medical facilities to older persons, she said, adding it also required the state governments to prescribe a comprehensive action plan for providing protection of life and property of senior citizens.
Since most of the provisions were to be implemented by the states, they were given the authority to decide to adopt the Act and the powers to frame rules, she said.
The Minister said apart from the Act, the Ministry was making concerted efforts to ensure that the lives of the older citizens became more comfortable.
Ministry's grant-in-aid scheme has been revised as 'Integrated programme for Older Persons' with effect from April 1 of this year.
While the amount of grant being given to NGOs for supporting old age homes, day care centres and mobile medicare units has almost been doubled, a number of innovative projects have been included in the scheme, she said.
UNI NAZ SB KN2014