Telangana High Court directed the State to take necessary steps for the welfare of the inmates of Old Age Homes. The Court also directed the State to consider the possibility of having Old Homes along with other Homes run under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Submission of the Petitioner
In Old Age Homes of Hyderabad and RangaReddy Districts, there is a lack of basic amenities. There are only two-bedroom houses as one block in one of the old age homes. The authority of old age homes kept 52 old aged persons in one house. Further, the room only has seven cots.
The old age homes are very unhealthy. There is foul smell emanating from the rooms with only two toilets and unfit for human dwelling. The Circle Inspector of Police visited the Home on 23/01/2020. He found that the home authority tied inmates with chains. The authorities treated the old aged persons with rudeness.
Prayer of the Petitioner
The prayer of the petitioner was to issue necessary orders or directions to the Respondents for the proper maintenance of old age homes. The petitioner prayed to provide adequate infrastructure facilities at the old age Homes. The petitioner further prayed for decent and dignified human dwelling of the inmates.
Report of the State Authority
The NGOs run the old age Homes. Private donors provide fund to these NGOs. Inmates also pay for the Old Age Homes. The Old Age Homes are of different categories. Some of them run free without charging the inmates. Others are charging Rs.2,000/- to Rs.30,000/-from the inmates. Those Homes which are charging between Rs.6,000/- and Rs,30,000/-, have & modicum of self- regulation. But there are also Homes which are charging less, and suffering from lack of infrastructure.
In one Home, the Home authority members kept twenty-four women into three rooms. There is hardly any ventilation, sunlight in the said Home. In another Home, there is insufficient space for free movement of the inmates. Moreover, there is lack of staff to look after the inmates. In some of the Homes, the windows are not fixed, cupboards are hanging loose. The Department of Social Welfare has not inspected the Homes for over six months. They are inspected only once in a year at the time of registration.
Report of the Amicus Curiae
Ms. Vasudha Naguraj appeared as Amicus Curiae in the case. She informed that there is no segregation on the basis of gender. A bed-ridden elderly lady was sleeping in the same room, where there were two active elderly men. The physical safety of women is a grave concern. There is no Helpline, or Hotline Number available. The inmates of the Homes do not have access to the world outside. They cannot share their plight, concerns, and interests. In the case of most of the inmates, the family abandoned the helpless elderly persons. Even the State ignored them.
Observation of the Court
The interim report revealed a shocking picture. The Managers and the members of the Homes violate the fundamental rights of the inmates. The State Government also violates the fundamental rights of the inmates of the Old Age Homes. The Government should look after the rights of the elderly population.
Directions of the Court
The Court directed both the learned Advocate General and learned Government Pleader, to file a report on behalf of the Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Respondent No.2, and the Principal Secretary, Women and Child Welfare, Respondent No.3, with regard to the following information and issues:
- Number of registered or not registered Homes;
- Released funding by the Government for maintenance. Further, for providing the basic necessities and infrastructure in these Homes;
- Number of times of Homes inspection by the Officers of the Court directed the respondents to create a helpline or a Hotline. That will be available in electronic and print media. The inmates of all the Old Age Homes of all parts of the State should find this.
The respondents would circulate a copy of this Order to the NGOs running the Old Age Homes. They would also circulate a copy to the Companies in the Private Sector too. Respondent No.2 would explore another possibility of cooperation of the Corporate Sector. Companies can provide the best infrastructure for dwelling.
The respondent would also explore the possibility of having Old Age Homes along with other Homes, run under the Juvenile Justice Act. There would be the possibility of guidance of the children by the elderly inmates. A symbiotic relationship would grow. The elderly people would get a chance to guide the children. Thus, the children would get guidance from the elders. The Respondents would also inform this Court whether the State could make such an arrangement or not.
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