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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 26, 2020

A Socio-Legal Analysis of Elder Care Laws in India

  • Deblina Dey


Care for older persons in India is considered to be the prerogative of the family, particularly the adult children. The legal and policy discourse reiterates this notion as well. In a country that glorifies the notion of filial piety, one finds a rising number of instances of parental neglect and abuse over the last decade. Against this background, it is important to revisit the existing laws, especially the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007) which aims to provide relief to aggrieved parents and senior citizens. In this Article, I analyse the relevant laws and discuss the nature of complaints lodged by elderly parents at the Maintenance Tribunal in Kolkata (India). The nature of intergenerational disputes and the way they are dealt with by the Tribunal highlight the law’s inability to imagine a world of needs beyond the economic needs of survival. Despite a few positive measures, the law presently falls short of interpreting the social ‘needs’ of belongingness, retaining authority and a position of importance in the family, a set of needs that often remain unspoken and are therefore disregarded by the law’s agent (the Tribunal judge in this case). I argue that in the process of translating the ‘needs’ of older persons into ‘rights’ through the application of the law, justice is disserved.

* Deblina Dey is an Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat. The arguments in this Article were first presented at the international conference on Elder Law and its Discontents organized by the Cegla Center for Interdisciplinary Research of the Law, Tel Aviv University, on June 18–19, 2018. I thank the Cegla Center and Professors Daphna Hacker and Nina Kohn for making me a part of this conference and the journal editors for providing detailed feedback. The chief commentator of my paper, Dr. Shelly Kreiczer Levy’s insights were immensely valuable. I also thank Dr. Shiri Regev-Messalem for introducing me to interesting literature on elder care laws in Israel. A special thanks to my PhD advisor, Dr. Pratiksha Baxi, for her critical inputs. Cite as: Deblina Dey, A Socio-Legal Analysis of Elder Care Laws in India, 21 THEORETICAL INQUIRIES L. 77 (2020).

Published Online: 2020-02-26
Published in Print: 2020-02-26

© 2020 by Theoretical Inquiries in Law

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