We are living in an age when bread is costlier than blood and money is losing its purchasing power, the Karnataka High Court remarked recently while rejecting a plea by two men to reduce the amount payable by them to maintain their aged and ailing mother. [Sri Gopal and Anr v. Deputy Commissioner and ors]
Both sons (petitioners) had earlier been ordered to pay ₹10,000 in order to maintain their 84-year-old mother under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. In a plea before Justice Krishna S Dixit, both sons claimed that this amount of ₹10,000 was too high for them to afford.
Justice Dixit, however, observed that in today’s day and age, ₹10,000 was not even enough to hold body and soul together.
“We are living in an age when bread is costlier than blood. Money is losing its purchasing power; days are proving very costly; a sum of ₹10,000 by any measure can (sic) be said to be excess; in fact, such a sum falls short of the ‘living wages’ of an unskilled workman. To hold body & soul together, more than that sum is necessary (sic),” the order said.
All the same, Justice Dixit “very reluctantly” refrained from enhancing the maintenance amount further, since the mother had not urged the Court to do so.
The Court also lamented that many youngsters these days were failing to look after their aged and ailing parents.
“With no joy in heart, this Court observes that nowadays, a section of youngsters is failing to look after the aged & ailing parents and the number is swelling. This is not a happy development,” Justice Dixit said.
Both the law as well as the Hindu religion mandate that sons should look after their parents and particularly, aged mothers, Justice Dixit said while citing Hindu texts.
He further said that as per Hindu scriptures, it is considered a heinous act for which there is no atonement if a person neglects and causes anguish to their aged parents when they become weak and dependent.
He further noted that the sons before the Court did not have any health conditions that would prevent them from looking after their mother.
“If an able-bodied person is bound to maintain his dependent wife, there is no reason why such a rule should not apply when it comes to the case of a dependent mother,” the Court added.
A request for the mother to be shifted from her daughters’ residence to live with her sons, instead of being paid a maintenance award, was also rejected by the Court.
The Court pointed out that there is no law that stated that “unwilling parents can be forced to reside with their children.”
“Such a contention is incongruous and abhorrent to our culture & tradition, to say the least,” the Court added.
Notably, the sons were ordered to pay ₹10,000 as a monthly maintenance amount on an order by a Deputy Commissioner after the sons challenged a ₹5,000 award earlier ordered by an Assistant Commissioner.
Before the High Court, the sons contended that they could not have been “worse off” in an appeal in this manner.
The Court, however, rejected this stance, opining that such an argument, which had its roots in colonial-era jurisprudence, could not be used to defeat the intent of the Senior Citizens Act.
The Court proceeded to reject the petition filed by the sons after imposing an additional ₹5,000 to be paid as costs to their mother.
Source: Bar and Bench.