Senior citizens should get meaningful pension: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on December 13, 2018 directed that senior citizens should get a meaningful pension to live with dignity and not just the equivalent of Rs 92 at current value.
The SC bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that the state was obligated to ensure that the right to live with dignity, which includes reasonable shelter, health care, clothing and meaningful pension for elderly people without any means, was not only protected but enforced and made available to all citizens.
The court said this while issuing a number of directions for the enforcement of pension for the elderly, shelter, geriatric care and medical facilities and the effective implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
• The bench noted that in real terms the value of Rs 200 being given as pension to elderly people since 2007 today stands at about Rs 92.
• The bench stated that the provision for basic necessities including nutrition, clothing and shelter can be made only if the elderly are provided with a pension that is meaningful and not pension that is equivalent to Rs 92 per month.
• The court said that if the current value of the rupee is taken into consideration, the amount of Rs 200 in real terms will actually work out to about Rs 92 per month on the lower scale.
• The court directed the centre and states to revisit the grant of pension to the elderly so that it is more "realistic".
• The court said that the schemes that are "comparatively dated" should be re-looked and overhauled to bring about convergence and avoid multiplicity.
Consideration of 'Economic Budgeting'
The court, while addressing the issue of the states’ limited capacity in meeting the expenses of the welfare measures for the elderly people, said that the consideration of 'economic budgeting' by the centre and states must be taken into account while enacting the legislation.
However, the court clarified that there cannot be any excuse of lack of finances either by the central or state governments in strictly implementing the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The court stated that if not the constitutional then at least the statutory rights of elderly persons must be recognised and implemented.
The court directed the central government to obtain necessary information from all states and union territories on the number of old age homes in each district.
The court also directed the central government to obtain information on the medical facilities and geriatric care facilities that are available to senior citizens in each district.
Further, referring to the provisions of the MWP Act, the court directed the Centre to exercise its power and issue appropriate directions to the states for the effective implementation of the provisions of the MWP Act and monitor its execution.
The centre has also been directed to file a status report by January 31, 2019, to enable the court to monitor the implementation of its directions.