Kerala HC ruling comes as relief to senior citizens

Much to the relief of senior citizens, the Kerala High Court has held that maintenance tribunals presided over by district magistrates under the Kerala Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rule, 2009 have the power to order eviction of son/daughter from senior citizen’s residential building to ensure his/her normal living with security and dignity.

The court made the ruling while disposing of a petition filed by 80-year-old Thoppil Anto of Ernakulam.

He had challenged the tribunal’s order refusing his plea to evict his son and family from the first floor of his residential building alleging that he was not being allowed to lead a normal life there.

Justice Sathish Ninan observed that Section 4(3) of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 provided for the obligation of children to maintain his/her parent, which extends to providing of needs necessary for the parent to lead a normal life.

It was in consonance with these provisions and the scheme of the Act that Rule 19 was enacted, casting duty on the district magistrate to ensure that senior citizens were able to live with security and dignity.

The court observed that the district magistrate has under Rule 19(2)(i) the power to order eviction to ensure the peaceful living of a senior citizen with security and dignity.

‘Exercise caution’

However, the power had to be exercised cautiously. It had to be ensured that it was not made as a weapon or tool to settle property disputes amongst siblings.

An order of eviction could be passed by the district magistrate only if, on an inquiry, it was found that such an order was necessary to ensure the normal living of the senior citizen with security and dignity, the court added.

The court while setting aside the maintenance tribunal’s order directed it to pass afresh an order on the plea of the petitioner.

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