June 16, 2018
Case name: Senior Citizen Welfare Organization & another v. State of Uttarakhand & Anr.
In a recent case, the High Court of Uttarakhand while recognizing the failure of State to maintain adequate old age homes for the senior citizens in the State has issued a slew of mandatory directions.
In the case, the Petitioner is a registered Society who have instituted this petition with the object to protect the rights of the senior citizens as per the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of the Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (the Act).
The Petitioner in the case alleged that as per Section 19 of the Act old age homes is to be established in each district of the State of Uttarakhand. Section 19 ordains the State Government to establish and maintain such number of old age homes at accessible places at least one in each district to accommodate minimum 150 senior citizens who are indigent. However, the Respondent State has established only two old age homes.
The Two-Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court while taking a strong note of the prevailing situation made the following observations in the case:
- That according to the language of Section 19, the State Government is required to establish old age homes in each district and also to prepare a Scheme as per Section 19(2) of the Act, 2007.
- That the State Government should establish the old age homes at its own level instead of relying upon NGOs or Societies. The State Government has to discharge the burden placed on it under Section 19 of the Act, 2007 and it cannot be permitted to pass on the responsibilities upon the NGOs for better management of the old age homes.
- That it is the duty of the State Government to provide beds for all senior citizens in government aided hospitals. There is requirement of separate queues for senior citizens. The facility for treatment of degenerated diseases is required to be extended to senior citizens.
- That every senior citizen has a fundamental right to live with dignity. It is the duty cast upon the State Government to protect the life, liberty and property including dignity and decency of senior citizens. They cannot be permitted to be left unattended in the twilight of their lives. Ours is a welfare and socialist state and it is expected that every senior citizen should live in a dignified manner with the assistance to be provided by the State Government.
The High Court in the case also issued a slew of mandatory directions for the establishment and maintenance of old age homes in India:
- The State Government is directed to establish old age home in each district of the State of Uttarakhand within a period of six months. It is made clear that it shall be open to the State Government to hire private accommodation, as a temporary measure.
- The State Government is directed to make a scheme for management of old age homes within a period of eight weeks from today as per Section 19(2) of the Act.
- The State Government is directed to ensure to provide sufficient number of beds for senior citizens in each Government hospital or hospitals funded by the State Government.
- The State Government is further directed to ensure that all the senior citizens in the State of Uttarakhand are provided free treatment including blood test, CT scan, MRI and other tests at Govt. hospitals.
- The respondent-State shall upgrade the facilities to be provided in old age homes from time to time including the strength of the inhabitants.
- The State Government is also directed to give due publicity to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 in print media, electronic media including through Panchayati Raj institutions for the awareness of the enactment as per Section 21 of the Act, 2007.
- The State Government shall provide the facilities to the senior citizens as per the Rules.
- The State Government shall provide separate accommodation for men and women including sufficient potable water, electric fans, coolers/ AC, separate kitchen, dining room, separate bathroom for disabled senior citizens.
- The State Government is also directed to provide wheel chair, television, newspaper and books in old age homes.
- The State Government is also directed to provide ramp railing to the senior citizens including telephone service.
- The State Government is also directed to provide balanced nutritious food, two sets of clothes for summer and winters, linen, sufficient number of sweepers for maintaining hygiene and cleanliness in old age homes.
- The senior citizens in case of emergency shall be taken to the nearest hospital for treatment. The cost of conveyance shall be borne by the State Government including the medical expenditure as well as of ambulance.
- The Circle Officers of the respective area are directed to maintain vigil in and around the old age homes.
- The State Government is directed to protect the life and property of the senior citizens as provided under Rule 20.
- The Secretary, Welfare to the State of Uttarakhand shall be personally responsible to implement the orders and monitor the directions issued hereinabove.