Mind your manners: Govt to enforce respect for elders through law

Draft for Punjab Senior Citizens Welfare and Rehabilitation bill is being finalised

Rameez Khan January 26, 2017

LAHORE: Being mean to grandpa can land you in prison as the provincial government is preparing a multifaceted bill to turn the mistreatment of the elderly into a punishable offense.

The consequences will include jail terms and hefty fines, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Director General Strategic Reform Unit Salman Sufi said that the Punjab Senior Citizens Welfare and Rehabilitation bill is expected to be tabled in provincial assembly by March 2017.

He said protecting the rights of senior citizens is a serious matter and not much has been done in this regard.

Sufi stated no youngsters can mistreat en elder. He added parents were neglected in rural areas after the transfer of family property. The official added affected people would be offered shelter in old age homes by the provincial government.

He said the draft, after approval from the government and later the assembly, will have a prospective effect. Any transfer before the passage of the bill will not be covered in the legislation.

The draft states that the law aims to turn the mistreatment of elders from just a social stigma to an act with serious consequences.

It proposes a five-year jail term and a plausible fine up to Rs500,000 for physical abuse. If an elder is abused verbally, the culprit will be punished with a two-month sentence a fine Rs100,000.

It proposes jail terms of three months and fines of up to Rs300,000 for people who abandon their elders.

This bill will also give neglected parents the right to retract any property or monetary benefits that they may have provided to their children. It also criminalises withholding of dues or pension payable to a senior citizen

According to the draft, an authority for the welfare of senior citizens will be established and further committees will be formed in all 36 districts. After it becomes a law, old age homes will also be established in Punjab and provide immediate shelter and protection to senior citizens, particularly those subjected to violence within their homes. The bill gives parents the right to monthly allowance via maintenance orders issued by the court if the mother or father is living separately from their children.

The bill will be executed and implemented via the Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Department.

Two seats will be reserved on every bus for senior citizens. They will also be given 50% off on health services by all government hospitals in Punjab. The draft also intends to provide a 50% discount at recreational centres, cinemas, theaters, hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants and lodging establishments.

The provincial government, on December 9, 2016, formed a 16-member committee with the provincial ministers for law and population welfare as co-conveners.

The legislation has been drafted by the Special Monitoring Unit (now Strategic Reform Unit) which is working directly under the Chief Minister’s Office. The committee is scheduled to meet in the coming days to formally finalise the draft before it is sent to the CM.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2017.



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