Spurred by complaints at janata durbars of district magistrates (DMs), the Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) has asked the state government to constitute a state-level body to look into problems faced by the elderly.
The directive came in the wake of suggestions by several DMs and senior government officials at a division-level sensitisation programme held in Munger recently under the aegis of the commission. The DMs, who attended the event, said they receive a number of complaints from elderly persons regarding maintenance and protection of property at their weekly janata durbars.
On Tuesday, BHRC member Neel Mani shot off a letter to social welfare department principal secretary A. Santosh Matthew asking him to consider the commission's recommendation of a state-level apex authority for the welfare of elderly citizens.
Advocating for strict implementation of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, in the state Neel Mani said sub-divisional-level tribunals are supposed to be formed for enactment of the law within six months.
The tribunal at that level is to be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-divisional officer, he added.
Neel Mani said the appellate tribunal at the district-level is to be headed by an officer not below the rank of DM. "The state government would have to frame rules under Section 32 of the Act for proper implementation," he said, adding that the formation of the tribunals at different levels should be notified.
Neel Mani said several incidents of abuse of human rights of elderly citizens have come to light. Around eight per cent of the population of the country consists of aged persons. "The percentage is likely to go up owing to medical research and increased longevity of human beings," he added. He said non-government organisations would have to play important role in this regard. The sub-division-level tribunal is authorised to order a monthly maintenance up to Rs 10,000, establish old-age homes in districts, provide medical care and transfer of property.