Nephew, if liable to inherit property is bound to provide maintenance to senior citizen: HC
The Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) has held that the nephew, who is in possession of the property of a senior citizen or liable to inherit his property, is bound to provide maintenance to him.
The HC bench of justice GS Sandhawalia upheld the order passed by the Ambala deputy commissioner in the case of a 64-year-old Ambala resident, who is 100% disabled.
The DC, acting as a tribunal under the Act, had dismissed the appeal of the nephew against the award of Rs 8,000 per month maintenance to the senior citizen since December 2018. The maintenance was awarded by the sub-divisional officer, Ambala, authority under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
“The factum of close relationship being a nephew has already been noticed and the fact that both the shop and house are in occupation of the petitioner (nephew). Once the petitioner is in possession of the property and liable to inherit the property after the death of the senior citizen, the section provides that maintenance can be claimed by a childless senior citizen as per Clause g of Section 2. Therefore, the argument of the counsel of the petitioner that the application was not maintainable in the absence of any relationship, is not made out,” the bench said.
The petitioner nephew had approached high court in February 2020 after the DC’s order. He had argued that the tribunal be asked to pass the order afresh since he had not participated in the proceedings. It was also argued that the petitioner was not a relative being a nephew and, therefore, the tribunal could not have passed the award of maintenance. There are other relatives who are earning handsome income and the liability has only been fixed upon the nephew, the court was told. It was also informed that the uncle had shifted to Delhi and after 37 years returned to Ambala in the year 2017 and started quarrelling with them by claiming to be part of the a shop, being run by the petitioner on rent.
The court found that the ancestral house was now owned by the nephew and the shop, taken on rent by the father of the senior citizen and his brother, where they too worked, and is now being run by the nephew. It was also found that the nephew was aware of the maintenance proceedings before the Tribunal in Ambala, but chose not to appear and it was decided ex-parte.
The court observed that the authorities below have already found that the nephew is earning from the business of the shop. By keeping the senior citizen out of the shop, he is also debarring him from earning and getting the fruits from the said shop.
Similarly, now the ancestral house was mutated in the name of the father of the nephew. “In such circumstances, the present petitioner would come under the purview of Section 2 (g) of the 2007 Act and liability to maintain the respondent No.3 (senior citizen) would fall upon him. Accordingly, the orders passed by the authorities below cannot be held to be unjustified in any manner, which would warrant interference by this Court,” the bench said.