Keeping in mind the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to ensure that all medical facilities are provided to senior citizens residing in the State.
The Court further opined that the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 will have to be scrupulously followed.
The order passed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj reads as follows,
“In context of Covid-19, the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 are relevant…In the context of the sudden surge of COVID-19, state government shall make every possible endeavour to comply with the mandate of Section 20, especially by issuing directions to Covid centres and Covid hospitals.”
Section 20 of the Act states thus:
“Medical support for senior citizens. The State Government shall ensure that,
(i) The Government hospitals or hospitals funded fully or partially by the Government shall provide beds for all senior citizens as far as possible;
(ii) Separate queues be arranged for senior citizens;
(iii) Facility for treatment of chronic, terminal and degenerative diseases is expanded for senior citizens;
(iv) Research activities for chronic elderly diseases and ageing is expanded;
(v) There are earmarked facilities for geriatric patients in every district hospital duly headed by a medical officer with experience in geriatric care.
Additionally, the State has been directed to issue advisories to all concerned hospitals in accordance with Section 20 of the Act.
This apart, the Court said that Section 22(2) of the Act [a comprehensive action plan for providing protection of life and property of senior citizens] will have to be implemented by the State.
To this end, the Court has directed the State to issue circulars to all district magistrates.
As far as payment of pension is concerned, the Supreme Court had directed that all eligible senior citizens should be paid pension, observed the High Court.
The Court directed the State government to give effect to the said directions of the apex court even in the case of those pensioners who are unable to go physically to collect their pension amount.
During the hearing of the matter, the State government apprised the Court that it has been using a mobile app to identify eligible pensioners.
Noting the development, the Court commented,
“Creating database for pensioners is very good but it will not resolve issues.”
The matter has been adjourned to June 18.
The Court was hearing a plea seeking an increase in old-age pension for senior citizens in the State, as per the directions of the Supreme Court. The Court had issued notice in the matter back in October 2020.
The instant plea also seeks to protect the life and dignity of senior citizens by identifying their needs, conducting health camps, facilitating their access to healthcare and medication, as well as securing their right to food, pension, and social security.