Bombay HC frowns over continued closure of senior citizen tribunals

The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra government why senior citizen tribunals set up under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 have not resumed work yet.

“Various authorities have resumed functioning physically or through video conferencing long ago, there is no reason for this tribunal to continue to be closed,” said the bench of justice Nitin Jamdar and justice Milind Jadhav.

The bench added that the Act of 2007, a beneficial legislation, is enacted for providing succour to senior citizens suffering because of the neglect by their children and there would be many senior citizens in need of immediate redressal.

HC has, therefore, asked the state government to specify when the tribunals would resume functioning physically or through video conferencing as may be found fit.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a former Uttar Pradesh minister presently residing in Mumbai, seeking a direction to his son to remove himself, his family along with their belongings from the former Bahujan Samaj Party leader’s flat in Mumbai.

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He had moved HC directly for the relief on the ground that the tribunals established under the 2007 act had stopped functioning since March 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic. He had urged that in the circumstances, HC should pass appropriate orders, as prayed by him.

Responding to the merits of the case, the former UP minister’s son argued that his father had been a member of a legislative assembly and also had been a cabinet minister and therefore he was not without support and it was not as if he was unable to maintain himself. He submitted that his father’s application for reliefs under the 2007 Act would not be maintainable.

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HC refused to enter into the family dispute after noticing that both the parties had roped in the wife of the petitioner and were levelling various allegations and counter allegations.

“We do not wish to adjudicate the issue whether the petitioner can seek this relief before the tribunal established under the Act of 2007,” said the bench.

“Assuming he can, merely because the tribunal is temporarily closed, the writ jurisdiction cannot be exercised to issue directions to the private parties and adjudicate the disputed questions of facts. Neither of the party is living in penury, and what is raised before us is a purely domestic dispute,” it added.

HC, however, found it necessary to look into the larger issue – the continued closure of the senior citizen tribunals and called for an explanation from the government. It has posted the petition for further hearing on October 15.

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