Bhopal, Oct. 2: Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced plans to enact a law to punish people who neglect their parents, although such a central law already exists.
"We shall bring in a law under which sons and daughters would be sent to prison if they neglect their old parents," Chouhan said yesterday at an event marking the International Day of Older Persons.
Chouhan, 58, railed against the practice of sending one's parents to old-age homes and said he felt sad that so many old-age homes were coming up even in small towns.
"It's not the tradition of our country to leave one's parents at old-age homes; it's to serve one's parents until the last breath of one's life," he said.
"Old-age homes reflect the effect of western culture. Today, young parents are willing to leave tiny infants in crèches. These children may leave their parents in old-age homes. It's a cause for concern."
State panchayat and social justice minister Gopal Bhargav said his department was working on a bill that would punish those who neglect or abandon their parents.
Neither Bhargav nor Chouhan, however, mentioned the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizenship Act, 2007, enacted by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government to protect the life and property of the elderly.
The 2007 act makes it a legal obligation for people to provide food, clothing, housing, health care and such necessities to their parents, grandparents or other senior citizens whose heirs they are.
Applicable to the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir, the act has provisions to set up old-age homes for poor senior citizens. It prescribes fines and jail sentences for violators and cancellation of property transfers the elderly may have made to heirs who subsequently neglected them. Many cases have been filed under the act in Goa, Coimbatore, Chandigarh and other parts of the country. It wasn't clear if the proposed state law was meant to increase the quantum of punishment.