The government is reaching out to those in their twilight, who are in dire need of some love and warmth.
A bill aiming to provide social security to parents and senior citizens and seeking action against children mistreating their parents is likely to be discussed in the Cabinet on Thursday.
If cleared, the bill is likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament.
The model bill, being piloted by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, for the first time, envisages three month imprisonment or Rs 5,000 fine or both for children who don't take care of their parents.
The penalty provision will apply for children, grandchildren, even adopted children or those taking care of senior citizens.
The new law allows parents and elderly to lodge complain with the area the sub-divisional magistrate, who will also act as a tribunal, against their children or any authority.
"The tribunals will act as fast track courts and the order of the magistrate will have same force as under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure," a government official said.
The magistrate has also been empowered to revert property back to parents and reversal of the wills. "The ability to retract the will is the brightest feature of the bill," said Dr Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research. This proviso can possibly check abuse of parents by children once they learn about contents of the will.
The proposed legislation also authorises the magistrate to fix allowance for parents to be paid by children, depending on his or her income. Kumar, however, said the proposed law does not provide social security to those parents whose children are either unemployed or are poor.
Social scientists said the biggest flaw in the draft bill is that it absolves the state from providing social security to elderly as done in the developed world.
"The government could have involved insurance companies to provide cover to senior citizens to meet high health costs which in many cases even children may not be able to afford," Kumar said. They also had their doubts over complete implementation of the law.
Ministry officials, however, said that the government would have to open an old age home to accommodate 150 people in each district of the country and beds will be reserved in hospitals for them.
The law makes it mandatory for the state to give old age pension to all below the poverty line. "The legislation would ensure that the maintenance, care and protection of elderly is legally enforceable," an official said.
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