This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, 'Legal Counsel', which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies.
I am 65 years old and suffering from cancer. My husband died in 2011. After his demise, I have been living alone at my flat located in Gulshan, which is the only thing that I have inherited from my husband. My husband and I took great care of all our children and raised them to the best of our abilities. They are well educated and well settled. My elder son lives in London and my other son and daughter live in Dhaka with their families. They have inherited large volume of properties and money from their father. To my utmost disappointment, none of them take care of me and they only call me during festivals. I am financially independent so I do not need any money from my children. All I want is their company and reasonable time and communication. Recently, I saw a TV program about a new law for parents' rights. I would like know more about this law. Do my children owe any responsibility towards me under this law?
At first, I would like to thank you for your query. I regret to learn about the behaviors of your children towards you.
In Bangladesh, maintaining the parents and giving them time especially during their old ages have been practiced from moral, social, cultural and religious perspectives. It is a matter of deep regret and concern that during the recent pasts, such practices and long traditions are being gradually eroded even within the educated and affluent families. In 2013, a new law, namely, Maintenance of Parents Act-2013 was enacted to confirm the maintenance of parents by their children. So, maintenance of parents is now a legal obligation for children as well on top of being only a moral, social or religious obligation.
For your ease of understanding, I would like to give an overview of the Maintenance of Parents Act, 2013. As per the definition in the Act, Maintenance means providing food, clothing, medical care, shelter and company to the parents. The Act ensures that all children who are capable must provide maintenance to his/her parents. To confirm the maintenance of parents every children shall live with their parents. If any parents have more than one child then they must ensure their parents' maintenance in consultation with each-other. Children cannot force their parents to live separately or at an old home. Every child must take care of their parents' health and give necessary medical care and attention. If the children live separately from their parents then they must visit their parents regularly and give a reasonable amount from their daily or monthly or yearly income, whichever is practicable.
If father is not alive, children are obliged to provide maintenance to their paternal grandparents and in case of mother's death; maternal grandparents will get the maintenance.
Breach of any provision of the Act will be considered as an offence and whoever breaches any provision of the Act will be liable up to 1 (one) lac taka fine and in default of payment of the fine; the offender shall suffer imprisonment of a term not exceeding 3 months. If children's spouse, offspring or close relative do not cooperate or put barrier to provide maintenance to parents then he/she will also be punished under the Act as an accomplish. The punishment of an accomplish is same as the offender.
The Court can only receive the complaint when the concerned parent makes a complaint in writing. The Court can send the complaint for compromise settlement to the concerned Chairman/Member of the Union Parishad or to the Mayor/Councilor of the concerned City Corporation or Pourashava or to any other suitable person. The concerned Chairman, Mayor, Member or Councilor will hear both the sides and then try to settle the matter. The complaint if so settled will be considered as settled by the Court.
You are a financially independent so I understand you do not need money from your children. All you need is their reasonable presence in your life. I can understand what you are going through alone fighting cancer. You need your loving children beside you in this battle more than anything. You have already noticed from my above overview that maintenance includes giving company to the parents apart from proving food, clothing, shelter and medical care. If the capable children cannot provide maintenance to their parents it will be considered as an offence. Therefore, your children have a legal obligation to give you company and take good care of you.
You have the option to make a complaint against them at First Class Judicial Magistrate's Court or Metropolitan Magistrate's Court.
My best wishes are with you. I hope that the aforesaid opinion will help you to understand your legal rights. I also hope and believe that this write up will prick the consciences of all children around the world and provoke them to rethink about the manners they deal with their parents.
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