“I will hold you tight, support you, guide you, teach you, hug you, protect you and love you with all my soul. I am your parent, since the day you were born and until I draw my last breath, all that I am is YOURS.” (Unknown)
There is no denying that from the moment we are born, we are dependent on our parents. They wrap us in their shawl of invincible and unconditional love and nurture us to adulthood with the best of everything they can afford. Then, the table turns. While the children move into the working age group, the parents move into the retired age group, and there comes the time when parents become dependent on their children. Unfortunately, many of us fail to provide the love and affection to our parents when they are at their vulnerable old age. Such situation has occurred so many times that even the Bangladesh Parliament felt the need to intervene, and hence came the Parents Care Act 2013 of Bangladesh (the ‘2013 Act’).
However, our neighboring country, India, seems to be ahead of Bangladesh in tackling this problem. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 (the ‘2007 Act) of India deals with the issue at hand. This article will attempt to carry out a brief comparative analysis between the 2007 Act of India and 2013 Act of Bangladesh.
Both 2007 Act and 2013 Act ensure that the children have to take necessary steps to look after their parents and provide them with maintenance. The 2007 Act defines maintenance as provision for food, clothing, residence, medical care and treatment and the 2013 Act defines maintenance as provision for amongst others, food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment.
Under the 2013 Act each of the children will have to pay a reasonable amount of their total income regularly to their parents if they do not live with their parents. The 2013 Act does not define as to what constitutes a reasonable amount. Moreover, children will have to meet their parents regularly if they live in separate residences. Furthermore, under no circumstances are children allowed to send their parents in old homes against their will.
Both the 2007 and 2013 Acts allow aggrieved parents to file cases or make application against their children if they decline to support them. However, when compared, the 2007 Act seems to be more practical and effective than the 2013 Act.
Firstly, the 2007 Act includes adoptive and step-parents under the term parents. However, in the case of the 2013 Act, it is only the birth-mothers who are recognized as the mothers. This deprives the large section of adoptive and step-mothers from being protected under this Act, despite them nurturing the children with love and affection no less compared to the birth mothers. Surprisingly, the 2013 Act does not make a similar distinction in case of the fathers. The definition of father includes any man who is father to the child. Although the definition is very vague, it does not fail to include the adoptive and step fathers to be protected under the 2013 Act, unlike in the case of the mothers.
Secondly, the 2007 Act states that the application can be made by a parent, or, if he is incapable, by any other person or organization authorised by him. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the 2013 Act to suggest who is eligible to bring a claim under the 2013 Act. If, it is only the parents who are entitled to bring complain under the 2013 Act, then the 2013 Act fails to acknowledge the vulnerable position of the parents, both financially and physically.
Thirdly, according to section 5(4) of the 2007 Act, an application made by the parents or the senior citizens should be disposed of within ninety days from the date of the service of notice of the application. The 2013 Act makes no such provision. Considering that the potential litigants under the 2013 Act are people belonging to a vulnerable age group, the 2013 Act should have made provisions similar to that of the 2007 Act to deal with cases under the 2013 Act in a speedy and cost-effective manner.
Although from the outset, the 2013 Act seems to be exactly what was needed to ensure care for the parents, in reality the 2013 Act needs to be amended before it can effectively serve the intended purpose. For instance, certain key terms such as ‘reasonable amount’ and ‘father’ need to be clarified. The 2013 Act also need to include adoptive and step mothers under the definition of mothers.
Further, considering the vulnerable age group of the victims, provision needs to be made so that cases involving the parents/senior citizens are dealt with in a speedy and cost-effective manner.
Written by Junayed Chowdhury, Managing Partner
† Disclaimer: The opinions and comments expressed in this Blawg are not to be regarded or construed as legal advice by and from Vertex Chambers or any of its members. It is highly advisable that any person should seek independent legal advice before relying on any of the contents of this Blawg.
 Parents Care Act 2013, section 2(b); The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007; section 4(3).
 Parents Care Act 2013, section 3(7)
 Dhaka Tribunal; Acts of Parliament-2013
 Parents Care Act 2013 defines mother as the person who gave birth to the child.