Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Division Bench of Augustine George Masih and Ashok Kumar Verma, JJ., addressed the plight of a 72 year old widow mother who had been ousted from her house by her son. The Bench stated,
“It is often seen that after receiving the property from their parents, the children abandon them. In such situation, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 is an enabling lifeline for such old aged parents and senior citizens who are not looked after by their children and become neglected lots.”
Brief facts of the case were that the respondent, one Ishwar Devi, an unfortunate widow aged more than 76 years old had been ousted from her house and was given beatings by her younger son, Ramesh. It was contended by the respondent that her deceased husband had transferred four Killas of land each to his both sons and one house and one shop were left for maintenance of respondent. After two years of the death of her husband, her younger son-Ramesh had executed the transfer of the shop by playing fraud with her; he had also transferred her own house in his name.
Ultimately, the respondent approached the SDM by filing application under Section 5(1) of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Act, 2007) to get the registry of the house and one shop to be returned to her and for protection of her life, liberty and property and for grant of maintenance along with allowing her to live in the house with dignity. The SDM allowed the application of the mother and ordered to cancel the transfer deed vide which two shops measuring area 32.32 square yards got transferred again in favour of the mother and allowing her to live in the house in question till her age and till she is alive and the SDM also ordered her son, Ramesh to give Rs. 2,000 per month as subsistence allowance to his mother.
Aggrieved by the order of SDM, Ramesh filed appeal before the Appellate Tribunal, whereby the Tribunal partly reversed and set aside the findings of the SDM with regard to cancellation of the transfer deed and only maintained grant of maintenance and the right to live in her house. Said order of the Tribunal was against challenged before Single Bench of the High Court. The writ petition filed by the mother had been allowed and the Single Judge restored the order passed by the SDM in toto by the impugned judgment.
The appellant-Ramesh had submitted that the learned Single Judge erred in law by over-looking the fact that even the order passed by the SDM was beyond the relief asked for by respondent-Ishwar Devi and by erroneously observing that the order passed by the Tribunal was nonspeaking. The appellant contended that even if this was the situation, the normal course was to remand the matter to the Tribunal for fresh decision so that it could be decided on merits but without adopting the course, the Single Judge had illegally restored the orders passed by the SDM.
Finding no substance in the submissions of the appellant with regard to granting relief beyond the relief asked for by respondent-Ishwar Devi, the Bench stated that a perusal of the application dated filed under the provisions of the Act, 2007 by Ishwar Devi would show that her property had been transferred by the appellant by playing fraud with her. She even stated in the application that the appellant and his son gave beatings to her and ousted her from the house.
Section 5 (1) (c) of the Act, 2007 empowers the SDM to take cognizance suo moto. In the presence of such enabling provisions, it could not be said that the SDM had acted arbitrarily beyond its jurisdiction and granted relief beyond the relief asked for by respondent. Rejecting the argument of the appellant that the Single Judge should have remanded the matter to the Tribunal, the Bench stated,
“The SDM had conducted spot inspection and had even interacted with the parties which made him conclude that the conduct of the appellant was not above board and he neglected his mother and not provided the basic amenities despite the fact that the property was transferred in his name.”
The Bench opined that in the presence of such well-reasoned and speaking order passed by the SDM, the Single Judge had rightly maintained the said order. Further, it was held that the order passed by the Tribunal was evasive, non-speaking and erroneously bad in the eyes of law and such an exercise of power was to be deprecated; as such when speaking and well-reasoned order was available on record that should have been maintained for delivering speedy justice to an unfortunate mother who was more than 76 years old suffering from various ailments.
Hence, the Bench was of the view that the SDM had rightly exercised his jurisdiction available under Section 23 of the Act, 2007 and cancelled the transfer deed and directed that the shops in question be transferred back in the name of the mother and possession be granted back to her. Noticing that Section 23 (1) of the Act, 2007 explicitly stipulates that in case the children fail to take care of their parents after transfer of their parent’s property in their favour, the said transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence and shall at the option of the transferor be declared void by the Tribunal. The provision under Section 23 (1) of the Act, 2007 attempts to provide a dignified existence to the elderly people; the Bench remarked,
It is often seen that after receiving the property from their parents, the children abandon them. In such situation, Section 23 of the Act of 2007 is a deterrent to this and hence is beneficial for the elderly old aged people who are incapable of taking care of themselves in their last phase of life.
Therefore, the Bench held that the children are expected to look after their elderly parents properly which is not only a value based principle but a bounden duty as enshrined within the mandate of the Act of 2007. In view of the above, the impugned order passed by Single Judge was held to be a well-reasoned one and the instant LPA was dismissed in limni.[Ramesh v. Ishwar Devi, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 1358, decided on 08-07-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For the Appellant: Rakesh Gupta, Advocate
For the Respondent: Abhimanyu Batra, Advocate