jharkhand high court

Jharkhand High Court: In a criminal revision preferred against order passed by a Family Court directing husband to pay Rs 30,000 and Rs 15,000 towards maintenance of wife and son on a monthly basis, Subhash Chand, J. cited several texts depicting Indian culture and held that a married woman was duty bound to serve the ailing mother-in-law and took the same as a ground for rejecting maintenance granted in her favour after wife left matrimonial home without any reasonable cause.

Factual Background

The couple got married on 11-05-2013 according to Hindu rites and rituals and got blessed with a child who was now 4 years old. The wife refused to serve the ailing mother-in-law and maternal grandmother and also insisted on living separately with her husband, creating a strained atmosphere and willingly left the matrimonial home along with her son.

The wife filed an application for maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) alleging that she was not treated properly after marriage at her matrimonial home. It was further alleged that the mother-in-law made comments against her father for not giving enough dowry since her son was a doctor, and also, started demanding Rs 5 lakhs on the said account. Such events led her to leave the in-law’s house on 09-06-2018. Without any source of income to maintain herself and her child, while the husband and even his mother had several sources of monthly income. Thus, the wife sought maintenance of Rs 40,000 and Rs 20,000 per month for herself and her son.

On the other hand, the husband informed the Court about his 72-year-old mother suffering from several ailments and 93-year-old maternal grandmother being bed-ridden, and after marriage, the petitioner was included in the household as a newly married housewife, expressing her declined attitude towards family management. In 2013, she conceived and gave birth in 2014 and was on full bed rest post-delivery for early recovery. However, she again started showing her attitude towards the two aged women and pressurized her husband to alienate the two in a separate residence or an old age home or she would leave her matrimonial home and proceeded to her parental home. She behaved badly with her husband and the two aged women and adamantly went to her parental home. Even for the child’s ceremony after birth, she came back with conditions and abandoned association with her husband or other members and restricted the mother-in-law from touching the baby and even threatened fabricating false cases against the family members.

All this led the husband to file a suit for judicial separation on 25-07-2018 after which, the wife started harassing the husband by frequent calls through Police and instituted maintenance case and under Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’), while the husband sent monetary assistance which was refused by the wife and she left her matrimonial home on 9-06-2018.

The husband alleged that the highly educated wife having completed MSc Zoology, able to earn instituted the case with mala fide exaggeration to lead a luxurious lifestyle while putting the husband in hardship.

Court’s Analysis

The Court perused the oral evidence by both the parties and expressed that the only reason for wife leaving her matrimonial home was the unwillingness to serve her aged mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law, seeking to separate her husband from them, as was confirmed by the members of the house as well as the neighbours. The Court further noted that the case for dowry demand and IPC 498A was filed just after husband filed suit under Section 10 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, reflecting her act to be a counter blast case to teach a lesson to her husband.

The Court referred to Narendra v. K. Meena, (2016) 9 SCC 455 regarding wife’s persistent efforts to separate her husband from his family constituting cruelty. The Court further cited Pages 71 to 85 of ‘Introduction of Family Life Education’ by Prof. Teresa Chacko for explaining roles of husband and wife in a family. The Court highlighted Section 125(4) of CrPC wherein, the legislation adding ‘refusal to reside with husband without reasonable cause’ as a ground for denial of maintenance. It further pointed towards Article 51-A of Constitution providing duty ‘to value and preserve the reach heritage of our composite culture’, hinting towards the Indian culture “to serve the old age mother-in-law or grandmother-in-law as the case may by the wife in order to preserve this culture.” The Court held it obligatory for the wife to serve her husband’s mother and grandmother and not insist husband with the unreasonable demand to live separately.

Court on Importance of Women in a Family

The Court quoted a few lines from Yajurveda

“O woman you do not deserve to be defeated by challenges. You can defeat the mightiest challenge. Defeat the enemies and their armies you have valour of thousand.”

“O brilliant woman, remove ignorance with your bright intellect and provides bliss to all.”

It further cited Manu


“Where the women of the family are miserable, the family is soon destroyed, but it always thrives where the women are contended.” (Manusmriti 3:57)

“In no world has Brahma created a gem superior to woman (stri), whose speech, sight, touch, thought, provoke pleasurable sensations. Such a gem in the shape of a woman is the fruit of a person’s good, deeds, and from such a gem a person obtains both sons and pleasure. A woman, therefore, resembles the goddess of wealth in a family, and must be treated with respect, and all her wants must be satisfied.”

Regarding the quantum of maintenance decided by the Court, it took note of the husband’s salary slip and the issue of leaving matrimonial home without reasonable cause, the Court was of the view that the wife was not entitled to any amount of maintenance. The Court found the amount of maintenance awarded to the son proportionate to the husband’s income.

The Court highlighted that in husband’s proceedings for judicial separation under Section 10 of HMA, the wife had also filed application for maintenance under Section 24 and the husband was directed to pay Rs 25,000 for wife and Rs 5,000 for minor son on a monthly basis. Here, the Court enhanced the maintenance sum for minor son from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000.

Ultimately, the Court partly allowed the lower court order to the extent of maintenance to minor son, modifying the same to Rs 25,000 per month and set aside the maintenance for wife.

[Rudra Narayan Ray v. Piyali Ray Chatterjee, 2024 SCC OnLine Jhar 75, decided on 22-01-2023]

Judgment by: Justice Subhash Chand

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioner: Advocate Indrajit Sinha, Advocate Akhouri Awinash Kumar

For Opposite Party: Advocate Rahul Kumar

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One comment

  • Shameful and misogynistic, both genders have responsibilities towards their in laws

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