Law on Maintenance | Father having to bear expenses of other dependents can ignore from sharing equal responsibility of son’s educational expenses? Bom HC elaborates

Bombay High Court: Expressing that mother and father are equally responsible to equally share the education expenses of the child, Division bench of A.S. Chandurkar and G.A. Sanap, JJ., enhanced the maintenance amount of the child.

Instant appeals arose out of the decisions passed under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

Petitioner sought enhancement on the monthly maintenance.

Background

Petitioner was the son of the respondent. It was stated that after the marriage dispute arose between the parents of the petitioner. Respondent used to demand the salary of his mother and ill-treating and torturing her.

Mother of the petitioner lodged the complaint on the basis of the crime registered under Section 498-A Penal Code, 1860. Respondent was prosecuted.

When the petitioner was born, his parents were living separately. Petitioner’s mother had given notice to the respondent for divorce by mutual consent and divorce for petition was filed. Later the marriage was dissolved amongst them.

Reason for approaching Court

Petitioner stated that the respondent did not bother to maintain him, and his mother handled his education as well as day to day expenses.

Doing the above, petitioner’s mother faced great difficulties while maintaining him with her meager salary. Respondent did not bother to inquire about the well-being of the petitioner as well as his mother.

 On what grounds respondent seeks dismissal of the petition?

 According to the respondent, the mother of the petitioner is doing service as an ‘Assistant Teacher’ and getting a monthly salary of Rs 48,000/-. The respondent has to maintain his divorcee sister and the daughter of his sister. He has also to maintain his old aged mother. On these grounds, he prayed for the dismissal of the petition.

Lower Court granted decree and awarded the maintenance of Rs 5,000.

Analysis, Law and Decision

 High Court noted the grievance that the respondent was not allowed access to the petitioner and therefore there was a dispute. But as the petitioner was a major, he could freely meet his father-respondent. Hence, the said fact would not stand in the way of petitioner from getting the maintenance from the respondent.

The Father and Mother of the petitioner had been serving as “Teachers”. Therefore, it was apparent that both were equally responsible to share the maintenance as well as the education expenses of the petitioner.

Considering his plight and needs, the petitioner was constrained to knock on the door of the Court.

Lower Court took in consideration the day to day living cost in ordinary circumstances by a person along with the skyrocketing education expenses.

Grievance of the petitioner was that the amount of maintenance was not sufficient to satisfy his bare minimum requirements.

In High Court’s opinion also the quantum of maintenance could not be said to be just and reasonable.

Bench expressed that the father was responsible and liable to make provisions for the maintenance of his son.

If the respondent fails to share the maintenance & expenses then the mother would be required to bear the unnecessary burden

Therefore, the maintenance was enhanced to Rs 7,500 and as far as education expenses were concerned, father and mother shall share it equally.[Pradeep v. Master Sakashit, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 3575, decided on 13-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

R.M. Patwardhan, Advocate for the appellant in FCA No.43/2019 and for respondent in FCA No.16/2020.

Amruta Gupta, Advocate for respondent in FCA No.43/2019 and for appellant in FCA No.16/2020.

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