Wife of deceased nephew of senior citizen, who inherits property gifted by senior citizen to her husband, obliged to maintain such senior citizen

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of  Devan Ramachandran, J. granted relief to a helpless senior citizen holding that the wife of her deceased nephew was obliged to maintain her.

Petitioner herein was the wife of nephew of a senior citizen who had executed a gift deed in favour of her now deceased nephew, with a specific covenant therein that he will take care of her during her life time. However, petitioner’s husband (nephew) subsequently died leaving the gifted property to petitioner. Subsequently, the senior citizen was driven out of her house by the petitioner and was taken back only under order of the Maintenance Tribunal.

The instant petition assails the order of Maintenance Tribunal contending that petitioner was not a ‘relative’ statutorily obligated to take care of the senior citizen, she being only the wife of nephew of senior citizen.

Sole question for determination was: whether the wife of deceased nephew of a senior citizen was obligated as per Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to maintain the senior citizen after her husband’s death solely because the senior citizen had, during the life time of nephew, gifted property to him with the reciprocal covenant to maintain her.

The Court noted that as per Section 2(g) of the Act, a person would be construed to be relative of a childless senior citizen, if such person is in possession of or would inherit his/her property. Further, as per Section 4(4) of the Act, any person being a relative of a senior citizen, who is in possession of the property of such citizen, would be obligated to maintain him/her. Thus, a conjoint reading of these two provisions bound the petitioner with obligation to maintain senior citizen.

In view of the aforesaid interpretation, the petition was dismissed.[S. Sheeja v. Maintenance Appellate Tribunal,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 4949, decided on 14-11-2018]

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