Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Protection in Old Age vis a vis Dignified Life

     A city court in Delhi on 21-02-20 awarded life imprisonment till death to a young  22-year-old               accused for raping and killing an 81-year-old widow at her South Delhi residence two years ago,             saying it was a “brutal and diabolic” act. Besides the jail term, the court also imposed a fine of Rs          18,000 on him considering his poor background.The police, in its charge sheet, had said that on July       7, 2014, the convict raped Rekha Duggal, who used to stay alone since her husband died in 2005,            and then strangled her with her ‘chunni’.  
“In the instant case, the convict not only committed the vile act upon the victim, an old lady aged 81 years, but also strangled her to death. He was her full-time servant and was engaged to take care of her. He set the victim on fire after cutting pieces of mattress and using kerosene oil.
This incident once again raised the issue of security of a person in his old age which no one can deny.
According to the report of Census 2011, the total population of Senior Citizens (people aged 60 years and above) is 10.38 crore, of which population of males and females are 5.11 crore and 5.27 crore respectively. The share of senior citizens in the total population as per Census 2011 is 8.57%.
After a certain age health problems begin to crop up leading to losing control over one's body (Parkinsonism, severe cerbellum dysfunctioning etc.) even sometimes not recognizing own family owing to Alzheimer are common in old age. It is then children began to see their parents as burden. It is these parents who at times wander out of their homes or are thrown out. Some dump their old parents or grand parents in old-age homes and don't even come to visit them anymore if these children are financially capable.
Marriages that last for a lifetime are rare and precious. Older couples have experienced joys, weathered many storms and have endured the tests of time. Understandably, the impact on the marriage relationship can be overwhelming when advanced care forces one spouse to move to a care facility, causing a forced separation. Situations where each partner needs different and unavidable specialised care facilities and that even for a long duration or for life long then also the partners have to be more courageous, strong for their forced separation to ensure security and dignity of each partners.
The Ministry develops and implements Acts, Policies and Programmes for welfare of Senior Citizens in collaboration with State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations to ensure that Senior Citizens may lead a secured, dignified and productive life.
It has been observed that there are very less no. of Government run old age home and those which are run by private owners with specialised care facilities charges very high. Most of the old age home deny to accommodate couples if one of them need specialised care but the other do not.
Recently, the Government of Assam has formulate a policy to deduct an amount of salary from the employees of state Government/ State PSUs if the children are not taking care of their old parents. This intervention of the Government shows the importance of the issue of protection of Old people-Physical, financial, social & emotional.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the Nodal Ministry for matters relating to the Senior Citizens
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWPSC Act) - The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007 was enacted in December 2007 to ensure need based maintenance for Parents and Senior Citizens and their welfare. A National Policy on older persons was announced in January 1999 which identified a number of areas of intervention-financial security, healthcare and nutrition, shelter, education, welfare, protection of life and property for the wellbeing of older persons in the country. A National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) was constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to operationalize the National Policy on older persons.
In the present context, no person can be forced to live alone, or forced to separate from his partner as because the State cannot provide the security, dignity and productive life. The State is the Parens Patrie  and therefore the State is expected to take every measure irrespective of any financial constraint  to ensure the life with dignity for the old people.

Dr. Rumi Ahmad,
JEMTEC School Of Law, 
Greater Noida

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