Bombay High Court: Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 20 (3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, a bench comprising of A.S. Oka and A.P. Bhangale, JJ held that an unmarried daughter of a Hindu father is entitled to receive maintenance from her estranged father, even if she is not an Indian citizen and is residing in a foreign country. In the present case, the respondent daughter had filed a petition in the Family Court for monthly maintenance and a place of residence from her father. The Family Court had ruled in her favour and the father had challenged the Family Court order in the High Court.
The petitioner father had challenged the family court order on the ground that his estranged daughter had attained majority and was neither a citizen of India and nor was domiciled in India. The Court rejected the contention and held that the applicability of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 does not depend upon the nationality of the child or the domicile of the child. If both the parents of the child are either Hindu or Buddhist or Jain or Sikh by religion, the said Act becomes applicable to such children.
The petitioner also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 20(3) under Articles 14 and 15, arguing that if a father is under no obligation to maintain his major son then there is no reason why he should be compelled to maintain his unmarried daughter, even after she attains majority. Dismissing the petitioner’s arguments, the Court rejected the contention that two equals were being treated unequally, and observed that unmarried sons and unmarried daughters form two completely different classes, in view of the peculiar position of the daughter, particularly unmarried daughter, in the Hindu society. Ramesh Gajanan Rege vs. Gauri Ramesh Rege, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 2436, decided on 18-03-2015