Senior citizens are no longer being respected in the Indian society, the Bombay high court (HC) observed on Monday.
“The joint family system is crumbling and giving rise to nuclear families since the past two-three decades. Children are settling abroad, taking the citizenship of that country and old and ailing parents are left behind, with nothing to fall back on,” said the bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Revati Mohite-Dere.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concerns about Jayashree Gholkar, a 68-year-old Versova resident who owned property worth crores, but lived the life of a destitute, as there was none to look after her.
Acting on the PIL, the bench had last week directed the Versova police station to shift her to JJ Hospital, Marine Lines, immediately, with a further direction to the dean to treat her and submit a report to the court. But, barely 24 hours after she was taken to the state-run hospital, the 68-year-old died.
Observing that such a thing (Gholkar’s death) should not be allowed to take place again and that the state government or relatives should take care of such people, the bench has now asked the government to submit the details of implementation of the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.
The court has directed the state government to inform it if the tribunals stipulated under the legislation are in place, and if protection and maintenance officers have been appointed.
The court has also called for medical papers of Gholkar from JJ Hospital.
According to the PIL, though Gholkar owned a property worth crores at Versova and had close relatives, she was living the life of a destitute as her family members are settled abroad and there was none to look after her. Consequently, the woman was compelled to live in the company of stray dogs and cats.