The Supreme Court on Monday lashed out at two men for resisting monetary maintenance to their father, who has been forced to fend for himself in the twilight of his life.
A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar told their lawyer that the sons cannot treat their father like this, and that giving him adequate maintenance is a duty cast on them under the law too.
"You are not doing any favour to him. He is your father. It has been submitted before us that both of you are working in MNCs. Don't forget that you are everything because of him," the judge told the sons.
The bench's ire came after the father's counsel pointed out that the duo was also in possession of ancestral property and was getting rental income from it.
"Even this property has come to you because of your father. How can you two now enjoy it without giving him his monetary share at least?" questioned the bench.
The case related to a family in Delhi. While the two sons lived with their wife and children in the ancestral house in Karol Bagh area, the father was forced to move out.
A maintenance tribunal had last year asked the sons to pay him Rs 7,000 towards subsistence but the sons appealed against this order. They challenged the validity of some provisions in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The High Court agreed to examine their petition and also stayed the operation of the tribunal's order. It compelled the father to knock on the doors of the Supreme Court.
Admitting his plea, the bench asked the sons to work out a decent arrangement so that their father could live well. The top court also opined that Rs 7,000 per month is not sufficient and asked the sons to come up with a better number.
On Monday, their lawyer proposed to pay Rs 10,000 every month for the father but the bench was anguished to know the sons were also occupying the ancestral house and earned rent from it.
Justice Khanwilkar observed that the father cannot be deprived of the benefits of this ancestral property.
"You now tell us whether you are willing to sell that house on your own or should we appoint a court commissioner who will alienate it and divide the money among all three," it asked the sons' lawyer.
Asking the sons to make up their mind and reply after a week, the court made it clear that the old man must be paid out of either by the sale of the house or by the sons if they wish to continue occupying the house.