Many senior citizens in India, who have been cheated or abandoned by their siblings or relatives after they executed a settlement/gift deed in favour of the siblings/relatives, are not aware that they can legally get back their property without formally approaching the Court.
In a recent decision by Madras High Court, a division bench, manned by Justice RMT Teekaa Raman, dismissed an appeal by a 93-year-old woman. The applicant had prayed the Court to cancel the 1995 Order of a lower court in Villupuran, and cause her property to be returned back to her.
In dismissing her appeal, the Court pointed out the provisions of Section 23 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. This section empowers a Revenue Divisional Officer to cancel a Settlement Deed and declare the gift deed void.
The Court observed that by virtue of the above mentioned provision, where the siblings of a settlor/donor fail to take care of the donor and maintain him/her at the advance age, the settlor/donor can approach the local Revenue Divisional Officer to get back the property which he/she had entrusted to his/her siblings/relatives.
The Court further pointed out that the Supreme Court had in an earlier ruling, formulated a scheme to protect senior citizens. Pursuant to that scheme the National Legal Services Authority (AALSA) was constituted, and it has been functioning.
According to the Court, under the said scheme, a senior citizen, who intends to recover his property, can obtain the necessary legal assistance for the cancellation of the Settlement Deed by a Revenue Divisional Officer.
In view of this, the Madras High Court urged senior citizens, who intend to recover their property, to approach their local Revenue Divisional Officer.
The Court ordered that awareness of this fact should be created. Consequently, the Court directed that Taluk Legal Services Authorities must embark on creating this legal awareness.
The Court further directed that the High Court Registry should cause a copy of the judgment to be circulated to the Member Secretary of TN State Legal Services Authority, for onward circulation in all the Districts.
This must however, be done after the permission of the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court has been obtained.