In a country, meeting senior citizens’ requirements for services and social protection should be prioritised. Furthermore, their rights should be protected and they should be allowed them to participate in the development process.
The proportion of elderly citizens in India’s population has increased, and this trend is projected to continue. As per United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report from 2017, roughly 12.5 % of India’s population will be 60 or older by 2030.
Articles 41 and 46 of the Constitution prevent weaker sections of society, including senior citizens, from any form of exploitation. Although directive principles are not legally enforceable, they create a positive duty to the state when enacting legislation.
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Who is a senior citizen?
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act, 2007 defines ‘senior citizen’ as anyone who is an Indian citizen and has reached the age of 60 years and above.
Status of senior citizens in India
According to the Census Data 2001, the total population of senior citizens is above 7.7 crores, with 3.8 crore men and 3.9 crore women.
The Social Statistics Division of the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, released a report in August 2021 on the older citizen as follows:
Kerala currently has the largest senior population (16.5%), followed by Tamil Nadu (13.6%), Himachal Pradesh (13.1%), Punjab (12.6%), and Andhra Pradesh (12.4%) in 2021, according to the survey. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam have the lowest proportions, at 7.7%, 8.1%, and 8.2%, respectively.
Objectives and rights in the Senior Citizen Act
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 was enacted to assist senior citizens with financial security, welfare, and protection.
The act has the following provisions:
- Adult children and heirs are legally obliged to give a monthly stipend to their parents.
- Claiming monthly maintenance for parents and senior citizens is simple and quick.
- Parents can be biological, adoptive, or step-parents.
- Abandoning a senior citizen in any location is illegal.
- The state government must create at least one old age home in each state district and ensure that older residents receive adequate medical care.
The act has other measures to protect older people’s lives and property.
Since the implementation of the act, people who have transferred their movable or immovable property on the condition that the transferee supplies them with basic amenities and takes care of their physical needs have been considered to have made the transfer by fraud, coercion, or undue influence. Such a transfer can be nullified.
New amendments under the Senior Citizen Act
According to the main act, the definition of ‘parents’ includes biological, adoptive, and step-parents.
The amendment expanded the definition of ‘parent’ to include father and mother, biological, adoptive, step-parents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandparents—regardless of whether a senior or not.
Earlier, the maintenance relief each month was limited by the 2007 Act to a maximum of Rs 10,000 per month.
The proposed modifications eliminated the principal acts and restricted the maintenance limit of Rs 10,000 each month.
The maintenance order may direct the provision of extra resources and care for the maintenance. When assessing maintenance, the tribunal may now consider the parent’s or senior citizen’s standard of living and earnings and the children’s earnings.
Benefits available to the senior citizens in India
In India, tax policies for senior citizens are framed to reduce their financial obligations during retirement. According to the Internal Revenue Service, persons over the age of 60 are considered senior people and people over the age of 80 are super senior persons.
- Income of up to Rs. 3 lakh is tax-free for resident senior people.
- Income in the range of Rs. 3-6 lakh is taxed at 10%, whereas income of Rs. 5-10 lakh range is taxed at 20%.
- The tax rate on income beyond Rs. 10 lakh is 30%.
- They may also be eligible for a tax deduction for health insurance premiums under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act of 1961.
- Serious illnesses are eligible for a tax deduction of up to Rs. 50,000.
Less expensive air travel tickets
Older people with Indian citizenship coming under the categories mentioned above are eligible for various travel discounts.
For example, if a traveller is 63 years old, he/she is eligible for a 50% reduction on Air India’s economy rate for domestic travel.
Lower-priced train tickets
In India, senior citizens receive discounted train tickets. They can have a 40% and 50% discount on all classes of Mail, Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi, Express, and Duronto trains. However, this discount does not apply to tatkal reservations. During the booking process, one can use separate counters, and the passenger reservation system automatically reserves the lower berth for senior citizens when booking online.
Low telephone rates
Senior people are provided subsidies on telephone expenses. Customers of BSNL are entitled to priority telephone registration and have the registration fees waived.
Customers of MTNL are entitled to a 25% reduction on installation and monthly service prices for landline connections.
Several Indian banks have developed specific programmes for senior citizens, including special accounts such as senior people cards, priority service, lower interest rates, discounts, investment perks, and more.
For their convenience, most bank locations designate distinct lines for senior citizens. They are also provided a better rate of return on their assets. Their schemes pays an annual interest rate of 8.4%, and they are also entitled to a 0.5% greater fixed deposit interest rate than the general rate.
Priority in court hearings
Seniors aged 60 and up can write to the court requesting a priority hearing for their cases to provide convenience and speedy response time.
- In India, many benefit initiatives have been introduced for senior people across all sectors. To help with registration and clinical assessment, hospitals usually have distinct lines and counters for the elderly.
- National Insurance offers the Varishta Mediclaim Policy to seniors aged 60 and above, with a maximum insurance payout of Rs. 1 lakh for hospitalisation and Rs. 2 lakh for critical insurance.
- Senior citizens can participate in the LIC’s Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017 to get an assured pension based on an annual return rate of 8% for ten years.
They can invest up to Rs. 7.5 lakh in this scheme and receive your pension monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually.
Obtaining a passport can be a time-consuming process. Before issuing a passport, the applicant needs to undergo police verification. Senior people may be subject to post-issuance police verification. For this, they must include a copy of their son’s or daughter’s passport (if they are over 18 years of age) with their application form. The child’s passport copy must include a page with their parent’s names.
The Union government has set an age limit (i.e. 60 years) for a person to classify him/her as a senior citizen in its ministries, departments, and private organisations. It aims to address inconsistencies in the distribution of benefits to the seniors.
To achieve this change, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment plans to modify the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 was established to provide maintenance assistance to elderly parents and senior people. The act incorporates 7 chapters and 32 sections. The act assists in meeting their fundamental needs, adjudication, and disposition of cases in their best interests, establishing and managing institutions and services, and the rights provided and recognised under the constitution and related matters.
Who is a senior citizen?
Any person who is an Indian citizen and has reached the age of 60 years or more is considered a senior citizen.
What is the name of the act enacted for the welfare of the senior citizens?
The act passed by the parliament is the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
What are the rights of a senior citizen?
The government provides various advantages and concessions to simplify their lives. They receive subsidised treatments, medications from the government, and even certain private facilities. Discounted tickets are available for senior citizens under Indian Railways and Air India.
Is it possible for a childless senior citizen to avail maintenance under the Act?
Yes, under the stated act, a childless senior can seek maintenance from a relative.
What articles of the constitution provision for senior citizens?
The constitutional provisions are in Articles 41 and 46.