Aging is a natural process, which leads to weakening of the body and mind. Productivity and working ability of a person also decreases. It is the duty of the State as well as the family of a person to take care of him/her in his/her old age. However, due to illiteracy and lack of awareness, many senior citizens are not aware of their rights.
CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Constitution of India envisages protecting the rights of the citizens of India, which include senior citizens as well. Article 41 of Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution of India, directs the State to make effective provisions for securing Right to work and public assistance in certain cases which includes old age Further, Article 46 directs the State to protect the economic interests of the weaker sections. The DPSP are fundamental in the governance of the country, but they are not enforceable in the Court of Law.
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Under Section 20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 parents are entitled to claim maintenance from their son as well as their daughter if they are unable to maintain themselves. This right extends to both natural and adoptive parents..Step-parents can claim maintenance from their step-children only if they do not have their own children.
Muslim Personal Law
Under the Muslim personal law, both son and daughter are bound to maintain their parents who are poor if they have means to do so. However, a son, though poor and in strained circumstances, is bound to maintain his mother, only if she is poor. Further, if a son is poor but is earning something for his livelihood, he is bound to support his poor father who earns nothing. Since the concept of adoption does not exist in the Muslim community, the personal law is silent on the right to maintenance of adoptive parents.
Christian and Parsi Law
No provisions for maintenance are mentioned under Christian and Parsi personal laws regarding parents. The Christian and Parsi parents who wish to seek maintenance from their children need to claim it under Section 125 of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Parents irrespective of the community to which they belong can claim maintenance from their children (son and daughter including married daughter) under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. The children must have sufficient means to maintain their parents and the parents must lack means to maintain themselves.
Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
The object and intent of the Act is to provide for institutionalization of suitable mechanism for the protection of life and property of the senior citizens. The Act sought to lay down a simple, inexpensive and speedy procedure for the welfare of parents and senior citizens. The definition of maintenance covers basic necessities of life like food, shelter, clothing, medical attendance and treatment. This Act applies to all the parents irrespective of their age and to all the citizens of India, who have crossed the age of 60 years. Some of the important provisions of the Act are discussed hereinbelow-
- Parents who are unable to maintain themselves through their own earnings or out of their own property may apply for maintenance from their adult children. This maintenance includes the provision of proper food, shelter, clothing and medical treatment.
- Parents include biological, adoptive and step mothers and fathers, whether senior citizens or not.
- A childless Senior Citizen who is sixty years and above, can also claim maintenance from relatives who are in possession of or are likely to inherit their property.
- This application for maintenance may be made by Senior Citizens themselves or they may authorize a person or voluntary organization to do so. The Maintenance Tribunal may also take action on its own.
- Tribunals on receiving these applications may hold an enquiry or order the children/relatives to pay an interim monthly allowance for the maintenance of their parents or senior citizen.
- If the Tribunal is satisfied that children or relatives have neglected or refused to take care of their parents or senior citizen, it shall order them to provide a monthly maintenance amount, up to a maximum of Rs. 10,000/- per month.
- The State Government is required to set up one or more tribunals in every sub-division. It shall also set up Appellate Tribunals in every district to hear the appeals of senior citizens against the decision of the Tribunals.
- No legal practitioner is required or permitted for this process.
- Erring persons are punishable with imprisonment up to three months or a fine of up to Rupees Five Thousand or with both.
- State Governments should set up at least one Old Age Home for every 150 beneficiaries in a district. These homes are to provide senior citizens with minimum facilities such as food, clothing, and recreational activities.
- All Government hospitals or those funded by the Government must provide beds for senior citizens as far as possible. Also, special queues to access medical facilities should be arranged for them.
BENEFITS UNDER TAX LAWS
Senior citizens are entitled to certain tax benefits also. Some of the beneficial provisions arediscussed hereinbelow. According to the Income Tax Act, 1961, a senior citizen is an individual resident between the age group of 60 to 80 years, as on the last day of the previous financial year. A super senior citizen is an individual resident who is above 80 years, as on the last day of the previous financial year.
Benefits under Medical Insurance provision of Income Tax Act, 1961
Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act,1961 the senior citizens are offered a benefit on account of payment of the health insurance premium up to Rs.50,000/-. Earlier, this limit of deduction for health premium payment was Rs.30,000/- for senior citizens.
For super citizens, under Section 80 D, the deduction for the payment of medical insurance premium as well as the actual expenses incurred on their treatment are allowed.
The Elementary Exemption Benefit
Every individual in India, who falls under the income bracket to pay tax, is allowed for some elementary waivers.
While for the senior citizens, the government has set up this basic exemption limit up to Rs.3 lakhs. For the next 3 lakhs-5 lakhs slab, a senior citizen will have to pay a tax of 5%.
Super citizens get a higher advantage, considering their income and age. For them, this waiver is of up to Rs.5,00,000/- in one financial year.
Privilege on Interest Income
The senior citizens who are residents of India will have to pay no tax on their interest earned up to Rs.50,000/- in a financial year.
Under Section 80 TTA of Income Tax Act, 1961 interest earned includes interest earned in the savings bank account, deposits in a bank, and/or deposits in post-office.
When filing their Income Tax Return, the senior citizens will have to fill the form 15H. The amount of interest earned over Rs.50,000/- would attract the tax as per the slab rate of senior citizens.
No Advance Tax
While ordinary individuals have to pay an advance tax if their tax liability is Rs.10,000/- or more in a financial year, senior citizens are free from this burden unless they make income from business or profession. Those not owning a business only have to pay the Self-Assessment Tax.
Allowance on the treatment of specified diseases
The Government of India gives an allowance to its ordinary citizens to not pay tax if the cost of treatment is close to Rs.40,000/-
Under ection 80DDB of the Income Tax Act, 1961, senior citizens get a deduction limit of Rs.1 lakh if they undertake any treatment for specified disease/critical illness in a financial year.
Income Tax Return benefits
Super Senior Citizens (individuals above 80 years) can file for their Income Tax Return through either Sahaj (ITR 1) or Sugam (ITR 4). They can choose to do it either manually or electronically.
No tax under the Reverse Mortgage Scheme
A senior citizen may opt for reverse mortgage for any of their accommodation to make monthly earnings. The ownership of the property remains with the senior citizen and they are given monthly payments for it. The amount paid in instalments to the owner is exempted from Income Tax.
Standard Deductions from Pension Income
Senior citizens are allowed a standard deduction of ₹50,000 on account of their pension income.