There are not many laws that ensure safe living of senior citizens in the country, but the few that exist are powerful. Kerala Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rule, 2009 is one such, and under this, family members of senior citizens could even be evicted from their own homes if there is any hindrance to secured and dignified lives of senior citizens, said Kerala High Court in a recent order. The court also stated that District Collectors have the authority to carry out the eviction, in order to ensure peaceful living for a senior citizen, as per the law.
The High Court was considering the plea of an 80-year-old Ernakulam native, who moved the court, seeking eviction of his son and family living on the first floor of the house. Edapally resident Thoppil Anto told the court that he is not being permitted to lead a normal life there, with security and dignity.
The octogenarian had initially approached the Maintenance Tribunal with a plea for eviction of his son and family. However, the Tribunal refused the plea, citing that his peaceful existence will not be hindered. His son and family were directed to pay Rs 5,000 towards the maintenance of the senior citizen. But aggrieved by this, the man moved to HC with the same plea.
Considering the case, a single-judge Bench of Justice Sathish Ninan on November 27 reiterated that as per Rule 19(2)(i) (ensure that life and property of senior citizens of the district are protected and they are able to live with security and dignity) of the Kerala Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rule, 2009, ‚ÄúDistrict Magistrate has the power to order an eviction, to ensure the peaceful living of a senior citizen with security and dignity.‚ÄĚ
However, the court has cautioned that the power has to be exercised carefully as it should not be made as a tool to settle property disputes among siblings. The District Magistrate could only pass such an order after on an inquiry it is found that ‚Äėsuch an order is necessary for normal living of the senior citizen with security and dignity‚Äô.
Considering the present case, the court added that such an inquiry has not been conducted yet and so the District Collector can hear the parties and issue orders for inquiry.
But notably, although the Kerala Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rule, 2009 is powerful, many senior citizens are not aware of their rights conferred by the law. TNM had reported in various instances about the concerns on effective implementation of the legislation.