Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., held that provision of maintenance/permanent alimony being a beneficial provision for the indigent spouse, Section 25 can be invoked by either of the spouse, where a decree of any kind governed by Sections 9 to 13 has been passed and marriage tie is broken, disrupted or adversely affected by such decree of the court.

Petitioner-Wife on being aggrieved by the order of the Civil Judge approached this Court.

Respondent-husband had filed Hindu Marriage Petition claiming for grant of permanent alimony from the petitioner-wife at the rate of Rs 15,000 per month. The said application was filed under Section 25 of the 1955 Act, wherein it was pleaded that since the respondent-husband had no source of income and on the contrary, the petitioner-wife had acquired the educational qualification of M.A., B.Ed and was serving at Shri Datta Mahavidyalaya, Talni, Taluka Hadgaon.

It was stated that, in order to encourage the wife to obtain the degree, the husband managed the household affairs, keeping aside his own ambition.

Respondent-husband pleaded that he suffered humiliation and harassment in the marital relationship as the petitioner-wife, with a malafide and dishonest intention, filed petition that the respondent was neither doing any job, nor does he possess any moveable or immovable property or had any independent income.

Respondent-husband claimed maintenance of Rs 15,000 per month from the wife.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that a conjoint reading of Sections 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 would reveal that both the sections in the Act of 1955 are enabling provisions and confer a right on the indigent spouse to claim maintenance either pendente lite or in the nature of permanent alimony and maintenance.

The words applied in Section 25 of the Act of 1955 permit any court exercising jurisdiction under this Act, i.e. under Sections 9 to 13, at the time of passing any decree or at any time subsequent thereto, on an application made to it, by either of the spouse pay to the applicant for her/his maintenance, either gross sum or monthly or periodical sums for not exceeding the life of the applicant, having regard to the income and the other property, etc.

Bench clarified that the term used “at any time subsequent thereto” cannot be made redundant, by giving constricted meaning to the words “wife or husband”.

Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 25 are indicative of the fact that if at the time of decree, an application is made or at any subsequent time of the passing of the decree, an application is made, claiming maintenance by either of the spouse, the Court is empowered to grant the claim, which is just and proper and the payment can be secured if necessary, by creating charge on the immovable property of the respondent.

Further, the Bench added that Section 25 is not only restricted to a decree of divorce, but the decree can also be for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9, the decree can also be for judicial separation under Section 10, or the decree can also be for divorce under Section 13 or the decree can also be for a divorce by mutual consent under Section 13B.

Additionally, the Court expressed that,

Scope of Section 25 of the Act of 1955 cannot be constricted by not making it applicable to a decree of divorce being passed between the husband and wife.

Lastly, the High Court remarked that,

“Since Section 25 has to be looked upon as a provision for destitute wife/husband the provisions will have to be construed widely so as to salvage the remedial intailments.”

“…the application for interim maintenance filed under Section 24 of the Act of 1955, has been rightly entertained by the learned Judge and the husband has been held entitled to interim maintenance while the proceedings under Section 25 are pending.”

In view of the above impugned order were upheld and the petitions were dismissed. [Bhagyashri v. Jagdish, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 694, decided on 26-2-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr S.S. Thombre for the petitioner.

Mr Rajesh Mewana for respondent 1.

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