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Saturday, 7 November 2020

High Court: Maintenance tribunals can restore property to elderly

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 6

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has restored the powers of eviction to maintenance tribunals set up under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act.

In a clear-cut departure from an earlier judgment that took away eviction powers from district magistrates, Justice Arun Monga ruled the tribunals under the Act had jurisdiction to entertain senior citizen's complaint and enforce his rights for protection of life and "property" against transgression by his children and relatives.

Key findings

  • The protection of property includes right to its enjoyment, along with its peaceful and exclusive possession, even if it means ouster of others, subject to statutory parameters being in the senior citizen's favour
  • The statute has been enacted to provide "more effective provisions for maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens"
  • An application under it can be made only by a senior citizen. A person, who is not a senior citizen, is ineligible for relief under the Act
  • The relevant provisions in the Act and statutory rules framed under it stand unaffected and "very much in force" even after a Single Bench struck down a clause in Punjab Action Plan on powers of eviction with district magistrates

The ruling, liable to reduce a senior citizen's travel time to justice, came on a widow's petition against additional deputy commissioner-cum-maintenance tribunal's order asking her to vacate her matrimonial home on her 82-year-old father-in-law's complaint.

Her counsel argued the impugned order was not sustainable as the tribunal did not have power to pass ejectment/eviction order because it was meant only for providing maintenance to senior citizen.

Going into intent of the applicable law's framers, Justice Monga asserted the tribunal could declare property transfer void at the option of a senior citizen, who found himself neglected after transferring his property subject to the condition that the transferee would provide basic amenities. The property transfer, subsequent to the Act's commencement, would be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or undue influence.

Justice Monga held: "By necessary implication, the tribunal's power to declare the transfer void and restore ownership, includes the power to restore possession of the property to the senior citizen."

Justice Monga further held it would be against logic and common sense to say that the tribunal did not have the power to evict a senior citizen's child or relative in his property's illegal occupation and restore its possession, while having larger power under the Act to restore its ownership and possession.

Justice Monga added statutory protection/provision under the Act would be meaningless, if a senior citizen could not peacefully possess and enjoy his property and protect it from illegal occupation or trespass by a child or relative.



from The Tribune https://ift.tt/3n0hzPh

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