Law on Recovery of Maintenance | Limitation of 1 year for recovery of maintenance under S. 125(3) of CrPC and the law on enforcement to claim order of maintenance under S. 128 CrPC: All HC explains

Allahabad High Court: Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, J., while addressing a matter regarding recovery of maintenance amount, expressed that,

“Sentencing to jail can only be seen as a means of recovering the amount of arrears and not a mode of discharging liability.” 

High Court also observed that, scope of Sections 125(3) and 128 of the Code being different and the first proviso to Section 125(3) creating an interdict only on issuance of warrant for recovery under Section 125(3), the said period of limitation of one year cannot be held to create a fetter on the right to claim enforcement under Section 128.

An application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was filed to quash the proceedings of Execution Case under Section 128 of the Code passed by Additional Principal Judge, Family Court.

Factual Matrix

An application under Section 125 of the Code was filed by OP 2 and it was allowed by means of an ex parte order with a direction to make payment of a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 for life to the OP 2 and a monthly allowance of Rs 500 each to OPs 3,4,5 and 6 till they attain majority.

Proceedings for enforcement of the aforesaid order of maintenance under Section 128 of the Code were initiated pursuant to an application registered as Execution Case wherein a prayer was made for recovery of the amount.

Pursuant to a recovery warrant issued in the execution proceedings, the applicant appeared before the court and filed an application expressing his willingness to deposit fifty per cent of the amount due and order was passed directing that 50% of the amount due be deposited and the remaining amount be deposited in instalments. Subsequently, order in respect of recovery of balance amount was also passed.

In view of the above background, the present application had been filed seeking quashing of the subsequent orders and the entire proceedings of the execution case.

Crux of the matter

Order under Section 125(1) CrPC having been passed, the proceedings for enforcement of the order initiated under Section 128 of the Code pursuant to the application would be barred by limitation being beyond the period of one year from the date of order under Section 125(1).

Question for consideration

Whether the limitation prescribed under proviso to Section 125(3) would be applicable in respect of proceedings under Section 128 of the Code?

Analysis and Discussion

High Court noted that in Supreme Court’s decision of Kuldip Kaur v. Surinder Singh, (1989) 1 SCC 405, considered the distinction between the mode of enforcing recovery on the one hand and effecting actual recovery of the amount of monthly allowance which had fallen in arrears on the other, in the context of Sections 125(3) and 128 of the Code.

In the above-referred decision, it was held that,

“…sentencing a person to jail as per terms of Sections 125(3) of the Code is a ‘mode of enforcement’ and not ‘mode of satisfaction’ of the liability, which can be satisfied only by making actual payment of the arrears.” 

The provisions contained under Section 125(3) of the Code and the first proviso thereto again came up for consideration in Poongodi v. Thangavel, (2013) 10 SCC 618, and it was held that the first proviso to Section 125(3) does not create any bar or fetter on claiming arrears of maintenance and it neither extinguishes nor limits entitlement to arrears of maintenance.

High Court observed that,

The proceedings for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code are of a summary nature and the purpose and object of the same is to provide a simple and speedy remedy, and to ensure that the deserted wife, children and parents are not left destitute and without any means for subsistence.

Further, the Court added that,

The provisions contained under Section 125(3), as aforesaid, would indicate that the issuance of warrant or the imprisonment of the person concerned, is only a mode of recovery of the amount due in terms of the order made under sub-section (1) to Section 125 for payment of monthly allowance. The mode of recovery by issuance of a warrant or by imprisonment of the person as per terms of Section 125(3), has been held distinct from actual satisfaction of the liability. 

Mode of Enforcing has been held to be not a Mode of Satisfaction

The purpose of imprisonment would not be to wipe out the liability which a person has refused to discharge; the imprisonment of the person concerned being in no way a substitute for the recovery of the amount of monthly allowance which has fallen in arrears.

Further, elaborating the provision, Court added that Section 125(3) of the Code circumscribes the power of the Magistrate to impose imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or until the payment, if sooner made. The first proviso to Section 125(3) prescribing limitation of one year to seek recovery of arrears of maintenance, is only in respect of the procedure for recovery of maintenance as per terms of the sub-section, by construing the same to be a levy of fine.

Section 128 of the Code provides for enforcement of the order of maintenance against the person against whom the order of maintenance has been made.

Limitation

The entitlement to claim enforcement of the order of maintenance under Section 128 by seeking discharge of the liability as per terms of the order of maintenance granted under Section 125, therefore cannot be held to be extinguished in terms of the one-year limitation prescribed under the first proviso to Section 125(3), High Court noted.

The Bench further referred to the decision of Dwarka Prasad v. Dwarka Das Saraf, (1976) 1 SCC 128, with regard to the scope of a proviso as an internal aide to the interpretation of statutes. In the said decision it was held that a proviso must be limited to the subject matter of the enacting clause and must be read and considered in relation to the principal matter to which it is a proviso.

“Section 125 (3) of Code would have to be held to be confined to the Section which precedes it.”

Hence, the limitation of one year provided in terms thereof would have to be read in relation to issuance of a warrant for recovery of an amount due in terms of an order of maintenance passed under sub-section (1) of Section 125. The aforesaid limitation of one year under the proviso to Section 125 (3) cannot be held to travel beyond or stretch to an extent so as to being within its ambit the powers relating to enforcement of an order of maintenance under Section 128 of the Code. 

Therefore, concluding the decision, Court held that the proceeding for the enforcement of the order under Section 128 cannot be assailed on the ground that the same would be barred by limitation as provided under the proviso to Section 125(3) of the Code

In view of the above discussion, present application failed and was dismissed. [Mohammad Usman v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 640, decided on 31-8-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Applicant: Triloki Nath

Counsel for Opposite Party: G.A.

One comment

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