The Madras High Court recently ruled that only parents or senior citizens are permitted to file appeals challenging orders passed by Senior Citizen Maintenance Tribunal (Tribunal) under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen Act, 2007 (K Raju v.Union of India).
A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy held that as per the provisions under the Act, specifically Section 16, nobody aside from parents or senior citizens can prefer an appeal against an order of the Tribunal.
“When the words used in Section 16 of the Act are ‘Any senior citizen or a parent … aggrieved by order of a Tribunal may … prefer an appeal...’ and the other words govern the time or describe the senior citizens or the parent in the alternative, there is no room to imagine that others aggrieved by an order of the tribunal may also prefer an appeal on the ground that the scales must be balanced between the two sides.”
In doing so, the Bench expressed disagreement with the contrary view taken by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Paramjit Kumar Saroya v. The Union of India, which concluded that any person aggrieved by an order passed by the Tribunal may prefer an appeal.
“… we have not been able persuade ourselves to concur with the view. For the reasons indicated hereinabove, we respectfully disagree,” the Madras High Court said.
“A perfectly simple provision lucidly enunciated is sought to be twisted to imply something that it clearly does not permit”, the Court opined, in view of the language of Section 16 of the 2007 Act, which deals with appeals against orders passed by Senior Citizen Maintenance Tribunals.
Section 16 states, inter alia, that any senior citizen or a parent who is aggrieved by an order of a Tribunal may, within sixty days from the date of the order, prefer an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal.
The Court noted that the words used in this provision are lucid.
“… by no stretch of imagination, can such clear words of the statute be read or understood or interpreted to imply that any class of persons other than any senior citizen or a parent may be entitled to prefer an appeal under such provision,” the Court said.
It is elementary that an appeal is a creature of a statute and no right of appeal inheres in any person unless such right is expressly conferred by any statute, the Court emphasised.
The Bench added that merely because a provision confers the right to appeal on one class of persons, while not conferring such a right on another class, would not necessarily make the provision vulnerable to challenge under Article 14 of the Constitution (right to equality).
“When the clear words of a statute do not permit any other meaning or interpretation, particularly when it pertains to a right of appeal, additional words cannot be read into the provision to discover a right in favour of a class of persons excluded by necessary implication in the appellate provision,” the order further said.