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Children can be evicted for abuse and not maintaining elderly parents
Aarshya Gulati Vs Government of NCT of Delhi and Ors
W.P.(C) 347/2018, CM Nos. 1417/2018, 36104/2018 & 40805/2018
About/from the judgment:
The Delhi High Court has upheld the District Magistrate’s power under the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2009 to evict children, who do not maintain their parents, through a summary procedure.
The judgement was passed in a petition challenging Rules 22(3) and 22(4) of The Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2016 for being ultra-vires the parent Act, The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and the Constitution of India.
The Rules incorporated a summary procedure for eviction of a senior citizen’s son/daughter/legal heir from his/ her self-acquired property on account of non-maintenance and ill-treatment. The eviction would be by an order passed by the District Magistrate / Deputy Commissioner.
The petition was filed pursuant to an order by a District Magistrate, issuing a show cause notice to the erring children for further proceedings under the Rules.
It was the Petitioner’s case that the Rules transgressed the parent Act and had gone beyond its ambit by making provisions and conferring powers which are not contemplated under the Act itself. It was submitted that the Rules brought into existence a substantive right and a new remedy of eviction, which did not find any mention under any provision of the parent Act.
It was further stated that the parent Act did not create any negative obligation of eviction of any bonafide occupant from any premises when such occupant had been in possession of the premises for a long duration of time.
The Petitioner also argued that disputes with respect to title and possession of immovable properties warranted adjudication after a proper trial by a civil court and could not be disposed of in a summary fashion by an administrative/quasi-judicial authority.
The Rules were thus argued to be discriminatory, vague and arbitrary apart from being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The Delhi Government, on the other hand, informed the Court that the Rules were prepared, published and notified in exercise of powers conferred by Section 32 of the Act, pursuant to a comprehensive action plan.
The Rules were framed by the Delhi Government from time to time for the well-being and protection of senior citizens and parents in furtherance of the intention of the legislature.
After hearing the parties, the Delhi High Court noted that Section 22 of the Act empowered the State Government to confer powers and duties on a District Magistrate to comply with the provisions of the Act. For such compliance, the State Government was further empowered to formulate a comprehensive action plan to provide protection to life and property of senior citizens.
Section 32 granted the rulemaking power to the State Government in this regard, the Court stated.
The Court further recorded that the objective behind the Act was to provide an inexpensive and speedy procedure for the protection of life and property of the senior citizens from such children/ legal heirs who refuse to maintain parents by not providing the basic amenities and physical needs.
To further the cause, the Act also provided for protection of the life and property of the senior citizens/ parents which would include the “protection of property” which a senior citizen retains in his name and possession.
Coming to the issue of excessive delegation of power in framing the Rules, the Court reiterated that there is no abdication of legislative functions or excessive delegation when the legislature has expressed its will on a particular subject matter, indicated its policy and left the effectuation of the policy to subordinate or subsidiary or ancillary legislation.
“The Legislature cannot delegate uncanalised and uncontrolled power. The Legislature must set the limits of the power delegated by declaring the policy of the law and by laying down standards for guidance of those on whom the power to execute the law is conferred. Thus the delegation is valid only when the legislative policy and guidelines to implement it are adequately laid down and the delegate is only empowered to carry out the policy within the guidelines laid down by the Legislature.”
While examining the case in hand, the Court noted that the Parliament had expressed the objective of the Act clearly. Section 22 empowered the State Government to prescribe “a comprehensive action plan for providing protection of life and property of Senior Citizens”. Consequently, an obligation to prepare Action Plan/Rules was put on the State Government.
The Court further stated that the Rules framed by the Delhi Government indicated the parameters on which the District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner shall act at the time of passing an eviction order. These parameters included an application by Senior Citizen/ Parent(s) for eviction, verification of the title of the property through SDM and consideration of the provisions of the Act after following the principles of natural justice.
It was also observed that the Rules framed under the Act could be implemented by the District Magistrate as the jurisdiction of Civil Courts under the Act was barred.
The Court thus concluded that the delegation of power to the State Government to frame an action plan and to the District Magistrate to implement the same was justified and not vague.
The Petition was thus dismissed for lack of any merit.
In October 2018, the High Court had held that a Maintenance Tribunal constituted under The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007 has the power to evict legal heirs from self-acquired or ancestral property of parents on account of ill-treatment or non-maintenance.
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