Senior citizens have right to property; son, daughter-in-law are licensees’: Calcutta HC

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The Calcutta high court on Friday upheld the right of a senior citizen from Taherpur in Bengal’s Nadia district to reside in his house and said his son and daughter can be evicted as they are “at best licensees” living in the property.

The right of a senior citizen to exclusively reside in his own house must be viewed from the prism of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the court said.

The order was passed on July 23 by Justice Rajasekhar Mantha after he virtually heard lawyers representing petitioner Ramapada Basak and the state.

“A nation that cannot take care of its aged, old and infirm citizens cannot be regarded as having achieved complete civilization,” the judge said.

Acting on an order the court passed on July 12, the Taherpur police had escorted the petitioner’s son and daughter-in-law out of the property. The petitioner moved the court seeking their eviction.

“It is now well settled that the children and their spouses living in the senior citizen’s house are at best “licensees”. Such licence comes to an end once the senior citizens are not comfortable with their children and their families,” Justice Mantha said in his order which referred to orders earlier passed by the Delhi High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court in similar cases.

“Two issues would come up for consideration. The first of which is the availability of an alternative remedy under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The other is a right of a daughter-in-law of residence to be provided by either the husband or the father-in-law, if directed by a competent court under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005,” said the order.

Referring to an order from the Supreme Court, the high court order said, “In the instant case, it is seen that no right of residence has been sought under any statute by the daughter-in-law. Hence, this court is of the view that there is no impediment in allowing exclusive residentiary rights to the senior citizens and to direct eviction of the son and daughter-in-law.”

“However, the right of a senior citizen to exclusively reside in his own house must be viewed from the prism of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. To compel a senior citizen to approach either a civil court (the jurisdiction of which is any way barred under Section 27 of the 2007 Act) or take recourse to a special Statute like the 2007 Act would in most cases be extremely erroneous and painful for a person in the sunset days of life,” said the order passed by Justice Mantha.

“This court is therefore of the view that the principle of an alternative remedy cannot be strictly applied to senior citizens and a writ court must come to the aid of a senior citizen in a given case,” the order said

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