Maintenance Tribunals can order eviction of relatives from property of senior citizen

Mamta Sharma Vs Additional Deputy Commissioner cum Maintenance Tribunal and Ors

Punjab and Haryana HC

05/11/2020

CWP-38040 of 2018 (O&M)

About/from the judgment:

Deviating from earlier judgments, the High Court has ruled that maintenance tribunals under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 can evict relatives from properties owned by senior citizens. (Mamta Sharma v. Maintenance Tribunal and Ors.)

 

The Court was hearing an appeal preferred by a woman challenging an eviction order passed by a maintenance tribunal upon a complaint made by her father-in-law.

 

A Court stated:

 

"It would be against logic and common sense to say that while the Tribunal has the larger power under the Act to restore ownership and possession of the property but it does not have the power only to evict the senior citizens’ child or relative in illegal occupation of his property and restore its possession to the senior citizen."

 

The Judge based his reasoning on Section 23 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens, 2007. The Section empowers a Tribunal constituted under the Act to annul a senior citizen's transfer of property to a relative, when the transfer was made on the condition that the tranferee relative maintains the senior citizen and when it has been breached.

 

The petitioner's father-in-law, a senior citizen aged 82 years, approached the maintenance tribunal seeking the eviction of his widowed daughter-in-law from his self-acquired properties citing her lack of care for him and her bid to claim the property for herself.

 

The maintenance tribunal ruled in his favour and passed an eviction order against the daughter-in-law.

 

Aggrieved, she approached the High Court asserting, among other contentions, that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to issue such orders.

 

The Court stated that the intent of the legislators could not have been to preclude the maintenance tribunal from exercising powers of eviction, where the condition to maintain the senior citizen had not been fulfilled after a gratuitous property transfer.

 

"By necessary implication, the power of the Tribunal to declare the transfer as void and restore ownership includes the power to restore possession of the property to the senior citizen."

 

Any conclusion to the contrary would be against common sense and make the enactment meaningless, the Judge added in his order.

 

If the transferee was found to not maintain the senior citizen after the property was transferred, the property transfer would be deemed vitiated by fraud, coercion, or undue influence, Justice Monga explained based on Section 23.

 

Exhorting the parties in the instant case to reconcile, the elderly citizen was asked to pay a sum of money to his daughter-in-law so that she could set up a home outside of his property.

 

The matter was disposed of on these terms.

 

On a related note, a Full Bench of the Kerala High Court ruled that the gratuitous transfer of life interest on a senior citizen's property cannot automatically be viewed as including an obligation for the transferee to maintain the senior citizen. Such a condition should be expressly provided in the transfer document. In other words, the Kerala High Court ruled that a condition requiring that the senior citizen should be maintained by the transferee cannot be implied.

Read the Judgment

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