New Delhi: The Bihar Cabinet-led by Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar has approved a proposal to punish sons and daughters who abandon their elderly parents. The proposal has provisions of punishment that could lead to imprisonment of wards if they do not look after their aged parents.

The case against children will now be registered under the non-bailable section in Bihar on receiving the complaint.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reportedly said that this proposal was needed in current times, as children seldom leave their aging parents to fend for themselves despite all the sacrifices parents make for their upbringing. While some have argued that taking care of the elderly cannot be enforced by law, it is largely agreed in the Nitish government that it is better to have a deterrent backed by law than to appeal to people on a humane basis.

Estimates put the number of people in India above the age of 60 at over 100 million. Past surveys and research carried out by NGOs dealing with the welfare of the abandoned elderly claim that a large number of these senior citizens are often subjected to emotional abuse. In some cases, physical abuse has also been reported while deserting them due to mounting expenses was reported to be the highest contributor to the phenomenon.

According to reports, the measure was approved by the cabinet in May this year and a fund of Rs 384 crore has been sanctioned for the same.