A PIL was filed by former union minister Ashwini Kumar for protection of rights of senior citizens.
Arguments by Petitioner
- During the hearing, senior advocate Ashwini Kumar, who was also the Law Minister during the erstwhile UPA government, said the Centre in its affidavit says it was giving Rs 200 as old age pension. He termed it as “not sufficient” for elderly people when the GDP of the country was rising.
- The petitioner has sought that adequate number of old age homes be established in the country and direction be given to maintain and operate such homes with adequate standards to enable the elderly live their life with dignity and in accordance with section 19 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (MWP Act) , which states that :
- (1) The State Government may establish and maintain such number of old age homes at accessible places, as it may deem necessary, in a phased manner, beginning with at least one in each district to accommodate in such homes a minimum of one hundred fifty senior citizens who are indigent.
(2) The State Government may, prescribe a scheme for management of old age homes, including the standards and various types of services to be provided by them which are necessary for medical care and means of entertainment to the inhabitants of such homes.
- Kumar said there should be nationwide uniformity in the pension as well as the criteria for availing benefits from social security schemes.
Response By Centre
- Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand , said the Centre was coming up with new policy for senior citizens and that the pension amount of Rs 200 varied from state to state. She said Rs 200 old age pension was not uniform across the country. While in Haryana it was Rs 1600 and in Puducherry it was Rs 2,000 for people between 60 and 79 years and Rs 3000 to those above 80.
- She said the Centre was not looking the plea as an adversarial litigation and trying to evolve an acceptable solution for the elderly people. She said that construction of such homes was a state subject and the Centre cannot do much in it.
The bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that it was looking into what all could be done for the elderly people. “We have to look forward as to what could be done for elderly people. Centre may be wrong but the purpose of the plea is different. States should file their replies to the plea with regard to the status of old age homes in each district.”