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Maintenance of parents and elderly people

When a child is born it is the duty of parents to take care of the child. On the same footing later on it is the duty of the children to take care of their parents. Preventive destitution in society is one of the major objectives of social legislation. Thus, section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was enacted. It casts a duty upon children to maintain their parents. Code of Criminal Procedure is a secular law and applies on all persons irrespective of their religion.

Relevant provision of Code of Criminal Procedure is section 125(1)(d)
“If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain-  his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself, a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child, father or mother, at such monthly rate not exceeding five hundred rupees in the whole, as such Magistrate thinks fit, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct.”

Important Judgments
1. Dr. Vijaya Manohar Arbat v. Kashirao Rajaram Sawai & anr., 1987 SC
Supreme Court held that “Daughter is also liable to pay maintenance to parents”.
2. Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujrat, 1996 SC
Supreme Court held that “Step-mother can claim maintenance”.
3. Baban @ Madhav Dagadu Dange v. Parvatibai Dagadu Dange, 1978 Bombay HC
Bombay HC held that “adoptive mother can claim maintenance”
4. Pandurang Bhaurao Dabhade v. Baburao Bhaurao Dabhade and another, 1980 Bombay HC
Bombay HC said that “fulfillment of parental obligation is not a pre-condition to claim maintenance”.

Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956
Section 20 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 also puts a duty on children to maintain their aged and infirm parents. Under this section “parent” includes a childless step-mother. However this section applies on Hindus only and is not secular like Code of Criminal Procedure.

Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007
However, section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure is silent on maintenance of senior citizens as it only provides maintenance to parents. So this means that people who are childless and who despite having heirs to their property cannot seek refuge and remedy under Code of Criminal Procedure. Keeping in view this problem Government enacted Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. As per section 4 of this Act, a childless senior citizen can claim maintenance from the heirs of his property. This Act casts obligations on children to maintain their parents/grandparents and also the relative of the senior citizen to maintain such senior citizens. The main attraction of this Act is that there are provisions to protect the life and property of such persons. This Act also provides setting up of old age homes for providing maintenance to the indigent senior citizens and parents.


Taking care and providing maintenance to parents is not only a legal duty but also moral duty of the children. Apart from biological father and mother, now even adoptive mother and step-mother are also entitled to claim maintenance. The parliament and Courts are taking care of the rights of the parents and elderly people. It is evident from the recent judicial decisions that the Indian courts have been progressively liberal in deciding cases pertaining to maintenance. 

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