Age with Dignity: Unveiling the Rights and Support for India’s Elderly Population

Published On: 6th April, 2024

Authored By: Anjali S. Raut
Dr. Ambedkar College of Law, Nagpur University


In this article, we delve into the rights and support system available for India’s elderly population. We explore the various social welfare programs and legal provisions which help to ensure their well-being and dignity. We also discuss the responsibilities of children towards their elderly parents and examine leading cases related to the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Join us as we shed light on the challenges faced by the old age homes and propose ways to enhance the quality of life for our elderly citizens. Let’s honor their wisdom and ensure they age with dignity.


A growing number of society’s biggest issues are related to the aging population. Furthermore, it is an integral element of the industrialized and sophisticated modern society. That novel to India’s contemporary society. A major civilization that emerges from Asia or India is conventionally associated with India, where people live in groups and hamlets. As a result, everyone looks after one another, shows concern for one another, and follows the elder’s advice. The moral compass was distinct. The profit is divided, and the elderly are honored. When Western civilization and influence spread, the circumstances in India also evolved. Small core families are separated from larger collective households. This is one of the main justifications for throwing out the elderly. Elders and the elderly have nowhere to go. Today dismay and neglect are the prevalent scenes. Nobody is available to care for the elderly.

The traditional Indian social and family ties are weaker than they were, and elders are neglected when it comes to information concerning abuse, neglect, and exploitation at a later age. The most crucial thing to remember is that most of the elderly are ignorant about their rights and the obligation their family, the state, and society have to them. This is the reason why all of this is occurring.

What are the Rights of senior citizens?

  • To have an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, shelter, and clothing.
  • To have adequate social security, assistance, and protection.
  • To have freedom from discrimination based on age or any other status, in all aspects of life including employment and access to housing, health care, and social services.
  • To the best potential level of well-being.
  • To be treated with dignity.
  • To protect from neglect and all types of physical and mental abuse.
  • To complete and active involvement in all facets of the social, cultural, political, and economic life of the community.
  • To full and effective participation in decision-making, concerning their well-being.

What are the government’s steps that have been taken to defend senior citizens’ rights?

Globally, several policies and programs have been developed with social security and the needs of the aging population in mind. The Indian government has created policies and laws for the betterment of the parents and senior citizens, considering their welfare and providing guidance on these matters. In developing countries such as India, the primary responsibility of the central and state governments is to provide senior citizens with the necessary care to enable them to live out their final years with dignity and respect. Politicians and the government have taken many steps to defend the rights of parents and senior citizens.

There are laws, such as the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, the unaltered Muslim Law, Section 125 of the criminal procedural code, etc., that give women, children, parents, and other dependents, including female relatives, an autonomous right to maintenance. The primary goal of the Maintenance Act is to impose a social duty on the family’s stronger members to house and support the family’s weaker members, such as women, children, the elderly, and people with disability.

Several laws and regulations are placed to assist senior citizens. The Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme is one among them; it offers qualifying people cash support. In addition, several social welfare initiatives work to protect the dignity and well-being of senior citizens. For example, the National Program for the Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE), Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS), Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM). These initiatives deal with social security, housing, and commitments that children have to their aging parents.

The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007:

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment came out with this landmark legislation. The aim of this act is to recognize and provide effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of the parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution of India. Under this act parents and grandparents who are unable to maintain themselves from their income can demand maintenance from their children, grandchildren, or relatives, inclusive of food, clothing, residence, medical attendance, and treatment, to a maximum of Rs. 10,000 per month.

The Act gives several other directions in favor of the elderly, some of them are, the establishment of the old age home that is section 19; any other authorized person can file a suit on behalf of the elderly; there is no need for a lawyer to file the maintenance application or represent the party before the tribunal or court; there is punishment for the failure to pay maintenance. Also, it gives protection of life and property of the senior citizen under section 23, under this section if the children fail to take care of the parents, then the parents can seek the eviction or removal of the children from the parents’ house by invoking section 4 and section 23 of the Maintenance Act.

Case Laws related to the Act:

Santosh Surendra Patil v. Surendra Narasgopnda Patil [1], in this case, the parties to the case were parents and their sons. The respondents were the sons of the petitioners and were appealing against an order of vacation of the residential premises owned and constructed by the petitioner. The court went on the discuss the need for the enactment of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007. The moral duty to take care of the parents was crystallized as a legal responsibility under this Act. The state also takes upon itself the guardianships of the Senior Citizens and the old infirm parents. The eviction order was upheld by the court.

The High Court of Delhi in Sunny Paul & Anr. V. State NCT of Delhi & Ors.[2], held that under section 23 of the Act, 2007, the maintenance Tribunal can issue an eviction order to ensure that senior citizens live peacefully in their house without being forced to accommodate a son who physically assaults and mentally harasses them or threatens to dispossess them.

Personal Laws for the Protection of the Rights of the Senior Citizens:

  1. Hindu law: The Hindi Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 empowers elderly people with legal rights to claim maintenance from their children. However, the rights under this act can be accessed only by the Hindus. This law does not apply to scheduled tribes unless the government notifies them so. The most important point to be noticed is that both sons and daughters are liable for the maintenance of their aged parents.[3]
  2. Muslim Law: Muslims are also legally entitled to maintain their parents, provided, they have the means to do so. According to Mulla’s Principles of Mohammedan Law: 1.) Children are bound to maintain their poor parents, although the parents may be able to earn something for themselves. 2.) A son is entitled to maintain his mother even under “difficult” circumstances, if she is poor, though she may not be “infirm” (sick). 3.) A son, who though poor, is earning something, is bound to maintain his father if he is earning nothing. Both the sons and daughters have a duty to maintain their parents under the Muslim law. However, the obligation to maintain the elderly parents falls on them only if they have sufficient means.[4]
  3. Christian and Parsi Laws: The Christians and Parsis have no personal laws providing for maintenance for the parents. Parents who wish to seek maintenance must apply for the same under the provisions of the Criminal Procedural Code.

The code of criminal procedure:

Section 125 of the CrPC 1973 deals with the maintenance of old parents. Older parents may request maintenance under this clause, regardless of their religious beliefs. A magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order any person with sufficient means to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his parents, at a rate the magistrate deems appropriate, and to pay the same to any person the magistrate may from time to time direct. This is because a person who is unable to support themselves may neglect or refuse to support their parents.

Lacunas in policies and provisions:

The policies and plans are formulated, but the poor cannot afford them, and the implementing authorities have no way to monitor their implementation. Additionally inappropriate are the pension plans offered under the various regimes.  Schemes like this are prone to scams that enrich politicians rather than the impoverished. These kinds of scams are always occurring. These days, healthcare facilities are also very costly. Since elderly individuals over 70 are unable to travel alone, travel concessions are exclusively offered to them; attendants are also provided for disabled individuals.

Numerous old-age homes have been built, yet they lack adequate amenities. Elderly people’s incapacity to care for themselves is undoubtedly a social issue that the entire community should be concerned about. As time goes on, moral concerns and social ideals shift, leading to significant socio-legal conflicts that are governed by current law.

Another important aspect that hinders the implementation is, the financial burden caused by the Maintenance Act can arise when children are required to provide financial support to their elderly parents. This can include expenses for their healthcare, daily living costs, and other needs. It can be challenging for children, especially if they are already facing financial constraints or have other responsibilities to take care of. The act may require them to allocate a significant portion of their income towards their parents’ maintenance, which can impact their own financial stability and future. Fortunately, the Act does have provisions to assess the financial capacity of the children, this assessment helps ensure a fair and reasonable allocation of financial responsibility.

What is the way forward?

Every day in the newspaper we come across cases of suicide or molestation, indecent behaviors with senior citizens and parents, and exploitation of senior citizens by their children. It is very difficult for a country like India because social awareness and literacy rates are very low to implement. But it’s important to raise awareness about the rights and responsibilities it entails. This can be done through education campaigns, workshops, and community outreach programs. Additionally, providing accessible legal aid and support services can help individuals navigate the process of seeking maintenance. Strengthening the enforcement mechanisms and ensuring timely resolution of maintenance cases can also be beneficial. Ultimately, a collaborative effort between the government, NGOs, and society can help maximize the impact of the Maintenance Act and ensure the well-being of elderly parents.

There are some of the steps which should be taken by the elders:

  • For older adults selfcare is important too, especially when their activity is limited by illness. Going outside with a companion and keeping the mind active is important.
  • Staying active in the community. Social isolation is strongly connected with elder abuse, so it is important to stay connected.
  • Some older adults feel embarrassed, ashamed, or fearful to report any form of elder abuse. This notion should be changed as soon as possible.
  • Getting informed and educated about the Rights which are protected by the law and privileges they have.


This article attempts to concentrate on the problems that older people are currently facing. We tried to learn about the rights and benefits they are entitled to under the Indian Constitution. But since they are ignorant of these rights, they frequently suffer in silence. We also witnessed some of the future directions; all that is left for us as a society to do is actively engage in improving the world for those who have committed their lives to ensuring our future. All the laws and procedures that are required are already in place; elders only need to raise awareness and ensure that these laws and procedures are followed correctly.


  1. Research paper on maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens, by Khetrapal Puja, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, 2016.
  2. Rights of Senior Citizens, National Human Rights Commission India.
  3. Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
  4. Section 125, Criminal Procedural Code.
  5. Indian Kanoon.


[1] 2017 SCC Online Bom 3053

[2] (W.P.(C) 1046/2015 & CM APPL. 43227/2016)

[3] Hindu Laws, Bare Act, professional’s, The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, chapter 3, pg. no. 64

[4] Muslim Law, 2nd edition, dr. Rakesh Kumar Singh, Universal Law Publication, chapter 6, pg. no. 198

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *