Legal protection of rights and dignities of elders in India

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Legal protection of rights and dignities of elders in India

Written By: Naveen Talawar


The phrases like “Matru Devo Bhav” and “Pitru Devo Bhao” reflect the sentiments of one’s parents. During the ancient period, parents were worshipped as living gods and goddesses. They are the carriers of customs and traditions from the past, they are the treasure for our society but presently due to the problems in the nuclear family system these elders were taken by their children as a burden.

In this present, fast-moving world the adults and children are so engaged in their lives that they completely forget their parents, and this results in the abuse of elders. According to the survey conducted by the NGO help age India in 2014, 50% of elderly people are being abused in their homes and among them, only 59.47% attempt to report the abuse while 40.53% people do not report the abuse which they are facing. As a result of this, there is a shifting of taking responsibilities of these elders from the family members to the government or the state.

Constitutional provisions for protecting the welfare of the elders

To protect the interest of the elders, our constitutional framers have inserted certain provisions under part IV of the constitution I.e Directive Principles of State Policy, these are as follows;

Article 41 provides that the state shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development make effective provisions for securing the right to work, education, and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement, etc. 

And Article 46 provides that the state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people …..and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. However, these are not enforceable in the court of law but are the basis upon which any legislation is drafted.

Legal provisions

There are certain laws and policies focused on the rights of elderly people. Some of them are as follows:

The protection provided under personal laws 

It is the moral duty of the children to maintain their aged parents. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 empowers elder people to claim maintenance from their children. section 20 of this Act imposes an obligation on the children to maintain their parents. 

Similarly, Muslims are also legally entitled to maintain their parents as long as they have the means to do so. According to Tyabji, under Hanafi law, the parents and the grandparents in indigent circumstances are entitled to claim maintenance from their children and grandchildren who have the means even if they can earn for their livelihood.

Protection under code of criminal procedure 

Section 125 of the code of criminal procedure provides for the order for the maintenance of wives, children, and parents. Under this section, the parents irrespective of their religion can seek maintenance. 

The welfare of parents and senior citizens Act, 2007

Until 2007 there was no separate legislation to protect the interest of the elder citizens, it was only with the passing of the maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 that specific legislation for the protection of senior citizens came into force in India. 

This Act makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide sufficient maintenance to senior citizens or the parents and proposes to make provisions for state governments to establish old age homes in every district.

And the act through section 24 provides for the punishment for those persons having the care or protection of the senior citizens to wholly abandon them in a place where no one can find them, with imprisonment which may extend to 3 months or with the fine of rupees 5000 or with both. Thus, this Act is very helpful in protecting and upholding the dignity of senior citizens.

Government policies

Some of the policies that were undertaken by the government for the welfare of the senior citizens are as follows:

Indira Gandhi National old-age pension scheme:

Since 1995 the ministry of rural development has been implementing this scheme to provide financial security to senior citizens living below the poverty line. The scheme provides a pension of Rs. 200 per month to persons above the age of 60 years and Rs.500 per month to persons 80 years of age.

National Policy on older persons, 1999

The demographic aging was discussed in the national policy for older persons. It recognized that the older persons and their concerns were of national importance. The policy envisages the state to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter, and other needs of the older persons, etc. the policy also ensures the protection of life and liberty of the elders. 

National policy for senior citizens 

The national policy for senior citizens was formulated in 2011, This policy addresses issues concerning senior citizens living in urban and rural areas, special needs of the „oldest old and older women. The main objectives of this policy were to mainstream the concerns of senior citizens, especially older women, to promote income security, homeware services, old-age pension, health care insurance schemes, etc., and to work towards an inclusive, barrier-free, and age-friendly society.

The government has recently launched the umbrella scheme for senior citizens called the National Action Plan for Welfare of Senior Citizens with a vision of protecting, caring, and providing for the welfare and wellbeing of its elderly. The main objectives of this scheme are financial security, health care and nutrition, shelter and welfare, and protection of life and property of the senior citizens.


Despite all the above-mentioned constitutional, legal protection, and government policies to the senior citizens, the position of the elderly people is not joyful and it is because of our social approach towards them. Although many facilities are being provided by the government to the elderly people there is no mechanism to check whether they have been availing the same or unable to avail the facilities, therefore, the present schemes/policies towards the elder people require a change to some extent to protect the welfare and dignity of the elderly people.



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