Submitted under Internship under Legal Specs by Gunjan Chundawat.
It is often said that with old age one sacrifices many opportunities and positions that one used to sway with ease. But does one really lose any legal rights? Or are there any special rights available for senior citizens within the Constitution?
Caring for the elderly qualifies as one of the most elemental roles a society must be held accountable for. While most developed countries have legislation and schemes in place to ensure that no senior citizens are deprived of their rights, a large part of the population of countries such as ours remains unaware of them owing to low literacy rates.
Article 41 of the Constitution secures the right of senior citizens to employment, education, and public assistance. It also ensures that the state must uphold these rights in cases of disability, old age, or sickness. Meanwhile, Article 46 asserts that the educational and economic rights of the elderly must be protected by the state. Article 309 of the Indian Constitution says that the acts of the appropriate legislature may regulate the requirement and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services in connection with the affairs of the union or of any state. The governments concerned frame rules and regulations from time to time laying conditions of service including retirement benefits to its employees.
This very article provides that the recruitment procedure, appointment, and service condition rules of Unions and States will have to pass through the test of ‘Constitutional validity’. That means the union and state legislatures cannot frame out any regulation that clashes with the fundamental rights of a citizen.
As per rights guaranteed under the National Policy for Older Persons, 1999, all Indian citizens aged above 60 are entitled to a 30 percent concession in ticket prices while traveling with the Indian Railways. The concession is 50 percent for women aged above 60 along with the provision for separate counters and other services including berth requests. This NPOP recognized certain rights of the aged people and further declared the government’s responsibilities towards providing economic and social security along with healthcare facilities and protection of the life and property of the aged people. In spite of the declaration of said policy in 1999, even after a decade, no steps were taken to implement it. There was strong and consistent pressure from different organizations and NGOs on the Govt. regarding the implementation of it. This resulted in the passing of the legislation in 2007.
While different religions have varying laws in place to protect the interests of senior citizens, some are very particular such as the statutory provision for the maintenance of parents under Hindu personal law contained in Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Similar laws are found in Muslim laws, Christian laws, and even Parsi laws.
Sections 88-B, 88-D, and 88-DDB of the Income Tax Act of India allow senior citizens to claim a discount in tax. The elderly are also entitled to get higher interest on tax saving plans apart from having a wide variety of LIC policies and post office saving schemes to choose from. The rights ensure that growing older becomes a privilege.