Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Over 70 per cent of the elderly in litigation against govt & relatives

AFTER 60, what? This existential question rattles most people who are inching towards retirement age. In Delhi, however, it seems senior citizens have found a novel way to spend time after retirement — head for the courts.

A survey titled ‘ Major Challenges Before Older Persons of Delhi and NCR’, conducted by the Agewell Research and Advocacy Centre, has revealed that more than 70 per cent of senior citizens in the Capital stay busy fighting cases in various courts, commissions and tribunals.
These litigious senior citizens are proud of what they do because they believe they’re fighting for justice. “They say it’s an occupation and it keeps them active,” the survey report says.

The survey was conducted in the first week of July to identify the reasons that push the elderly to the corridors of the courts. As many as 3,000 senior citizens from Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Ghaziabad were interviewed for the survey.

Most of the cases filed by the elderly are against the government and its agencies as well as municipal authorities. The next big targets are banks and financial institutions. Property disputes, neighbours and family members are responsible for the remaining cases.

Legal experts have endorsed the survey findings. Prominent Delhi High Court lawyer Ashok Agarwal says you just have to go to the courts to know that the survey is very much on target. “On any given day, you’ll find a growing number of senior citizens sitting outside courtrooms,” Agarwal says. “This is a mechanism for the elderly to minimise the harassment they face from private companies, government bodies and their own children,” he adds.

Former Delhi High Court judge and president of the Delhi State Consumer Commission, Justice J. D. Kapoor (Retd), confirm the trend. The rise in the number of cases filed by senior citizens is driving up the load on consumer courts. “When the elderly are harassed by members of their families or by private companies, the only option left with them is to knock on the doors of courts,” Kapoor says.

Back in July 2001, the Delhi High Court had directed the subordinate courts to prioritise cases involving senior citizens.
Legal experts, though, insist there are other methods to settle cases filed by senior citizens. “The cases filed by the elderly should be decided using mediation, arbitration and reconciliation. Fasttrack court are the other option,” suggests Priya Hingorani, advocate and former vice- president, Supreme Court Bar Association.

Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India, points out that the elderly see themselves as soft targets for robberies, fraud, property disputes as well as emotional and physical abuse. “So, as a preventive measure they keep approaching courts,” Cherian says. “They believe that the only way to get things done is by seeking legal help.” Citing the calls the NGO’s helpline gets from the distressed senior citizens, Cherian says most of the callers seem to want their disputes to be settled in courts and not by the local police. “Delhi’s senior citizens have more faith in the judiciary than in the police,” Cherian says.

The reasons cited by the senior citizens for turning litigious make for interesting reading. “A majority of senior citizens are fighting legal cases just to kill time,” the survey report points out.

Nearly 60 per cent of the respondents said they had filed cases to satisfy their ego or because they were just addicted to going to courts.

Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat, however, disagrees with this bit of the survey. “Senior citizens get into litigation only as the last resort,” she says. “We can’t say they go to courts to kill time. They must have some genuine reasons, otherwise why should they get engaged in a lengthy legal procedure,” Bhat asks.
Another big motivation, according to the survey, is to gain respect from their children. “They feel if they win in the courts, they would regain the respect of their families and be better looked after by their children,” says Agewell founder Himanshu Rath. Though many senior citizens fight cases for entirely personal reasons, many more knock at the doors of the courts with the intention of doing well to the society. The right to information and the consumer protection acts are their best allies in this effort.

An interesting finding of the survey is that 70 per cent of litigious senior citizens have filed two or more cases in different courts. These elderly litigants agreed that because they had plenty of free time, they could prepare better for legal battles.
“When they were young, they say, they could not fight court cases because of career commitments,” Rath adds, drawing his inference from the survey report.

High- minded senior citizens, clearly, are getting serious about turning the law into a vehicle for social change.

Over 3.1 CRORE cases are pending before various courts of law in India.

In Delhi, the figure hovers at 12 LAKH

A survey by the Agewell Research and Advocacy Centre on elderly litigants reveals that a chunk of these 12 lakh petitioners are senior citizens

Over 55 PER CENT of the aged respondents said they were fighting cases because they had “ plenty of free time”.

Around 57.85 PER CENT of the respondents said they were knocking on courts’ doors just to satisfy their ego or because they were “ addicted” to fighting cases

Over 72.5 PER CENT elderly said they file cases only to “ get respect” from their children

SIXTY- THREE PER CENT litigants said fighting cases was an “ occupation” which keeps them active
Around 50.3 PER CENT elderly said they filed cases after they turned 60
Source: The Mail Today

Monday, July 19, 2010

India worst in end-of-life care

Stands Even Below Uganda; UK Found To Have Best Services: Study

India doesn’t just have a poor quality of life, as reflected in its poor human development index (HDI), it also has a particularly poor ‘quality of death’. That’s the depressing message from a new index developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit to measure end-of-life care services in 40 countries.

India finishes at the bottom of the list, which includes 30 OECD nations and 10 developing countries for which data was available. While finishing below the developed world may come as no surprise, what’s revealing is that even Uganda is a notch above India.

The UK was found to have the best end-of-life care (despite a far from perfect healthcare system), followed by Australia and New Zealand. The countries that fared the worst in the Quality of Death Index released on Thursday included countries such as India, Uganda, Brazil and China in that order from the bottom.

The report noted that these countries fared badly as progress on providing end-oflife care was slow despite notable exceptions of excellence such as the state of Kerala in India and the services delivered through Hospice Africa in Uganda. In Asia, Taiwan (14), Singapore (18) and Hong Kong (20) were ranked much higher than Japan (23), where over a fifth of the population is over 60 years.

The study noted that many rich nations lagged in the overall score, including Denmark (22), Italy (24) and South Korea (32). The US and Canada were ranked at 9th place in the list, while many countries known to have excellent health systems scored poorly including France (12), Norway (13), Sweden (16), Switzerland (19) and Iceland (25). According to the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, while more than 100 million patients and family care-givers worldwide needed palliative care annually, less than 8% of them actually received it.

Experts on end-of-life care identified access to drugs, especially the availability of opioids to manage pain, and availability of carers as the most important practical issues. They also pointed out that state funded end-of-life care tended to prioritise conventional treatment over palliative care. Even well funded health systems relied mostly on charities and philanthropic bodies to offer care to patients, noted the experts.

“In many nations, standards of end-of-life care suffer from inadequate policy, high costs, cultural barriers and poor access to painkillers. Too many people, even in countries that have excellent healthcare systems, suffer a poor quality of death — even when death comes naturally. This is despite the fact that in many of these countries, increasing longevity and ageing populations mean demand for end-of-life care is likely to rise sharply,” observed the study.

Source: The Times of India