Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan. R. Subhash Reddy and MR shah, JJ has held that an unmarried Hindu daughter can claim maintenance from her father till she is married relying on Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, provided she pleads and proves that she is unable to maintain herself, for enforcement of which right her application/suit has to be under Section 20 of Act, 1956.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

The Court was hearing a case wherein a woman had filed an application under Section 125 CrPC against her husband, claiming maintenance for herself and her 3 children. While the Judicial Magistrate dismissed the application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. of the applicant and 2 of her children, the daughter’s application was allowed for grant of maintenance till she attains majority. The High Court dismissed the application filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. of the appellant on the ground that since appellant has attained majority and is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality, she is not entitled for any maintenance.

Senior Advocate Vibha Datta Makhija, appearing for the appellant submitted that even though the appellant had attained majority in 2005 but since she is unmarried, she is entitled to claim maintenance from her father. It was further contended that High Court committed error in dismissing the application filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. of the appellant on wrong premise that since appellant has attained majority and is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality, she is not entitled for any maintenance.

According to the respondents, as per Section 125 Cr.P.C., entitlement to claim maintenance by daughter, who has attained majority is confined to case where the person by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury unable to maintain herself and hence, High Court has rightly dismissed the application filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. of the appellant since no case was made out to interfere in orders passed by the Judicial Magistrate and learned Revisional Court in exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C.

DISCUSSION ON SECTION 125 CRPC vis-à-vis SECTION 20 OF HAMA, 1956

“The maintenance as contemplated under Act, 1956 is a larger concept as compared to concept of maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C..”

On scope of Section 20(3) of HAMA, 1956

Hindu Law prior to enactment of HAMA, 1956 always obliged a Hindu to maintain unmarried daughter, who is unable to maintain herself. The obligation, which is cast on the father to maintain his unmarried daughter, can be enforced by her against her father, if she is unable to maintain herself by enforcing her right under Section 20 of HAMA, 1956. Hence, Section 20(3) of HAMA, 1956 is nothing but recognition of principles of Hindu Law regarding maintenance of children and aged parents. Section 20(3) makes it statutory obligation of a Hindu to maintain his or her daughter, who is unmarried and is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property.

“The right of unmarried daughter under Section 20 to claim maintenance from her father when she is unable to maintain herself is absolute and the right given to unmarried daughter under Section 20 is right granted under personal law, which can very well be enforced by her against her father.”

On scope of Section 125 CrPC

By virtue of Section 125(1)(c), an unmarried daughter even though she has attained majority is entitled for maintenance, where such unmarried daughter is by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury is unable to maintain itself.

“The Scheme under Section 125(1) Cr.P.C., thus, contemplate that claim of maintenance by a daughter, who has attained majority is admissible only when by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, she is unable to maintain herself.”

The purpose and object of Section 125 Cr.P.C. as noted above is to provide immediate relief to applicant in a summary proceedings, whereas right under Section 20 read with Section 3(b) of HAMA, 1956 contains larger right, which needs determination by a Civil Court, hence for the larger claims as enshrined under Section 20, the proceedings need to be initiated under Section 20 of the Act and the legislature never contemplated to burden the Magistrate while exercising jurisdiction under 34 Section 125 Cr.P.C. to determine the claims contemplated by Act, 1956.

CONCLUSION

On facts, the Court noticed that since the application was filed under Section 125 Cr.P.C. before Judicial Magistrate First Class, the Magistrate while deciding proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C. could not have exercised the jurisdiction under Section 20(3) of Act, 1956. Hence, there is no infirmity in the order of the Judicial Magistrate First Class as well as learned Additional Magistrate in not granting maintenance to appellant who had become major.

The Court, however, gave liberty to the appellant to take recourse to Section 20(3) of the Act, 1956 for claiming any maintenance against her father.

[Abhilasha v. Prakash,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 736 , decided on 15.09.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., while addressing a petition with regard to grant of maintenance held that under Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law.

Facts

Late Bhupinder was married to respondent 1. Respondent 2 was born out of the said marriage.

Mother of Respondent 1 died in the year 2016 and her father died in 2017. She submitted that she has no independent source of earning and she and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the petitioner.

In view of the above, respondent 1 preferred the proceedings under Section 19 and 22 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 for grant of maintenance of Rs 1,50,000 per month to petitioner 1 and Rs 50,000 to petitioner 2.

Family Court had allowed granted maintenance of Rs 40,000 per month to respondent 1, whereas Rs 30,000 per month to respondent 2.

Hence the present petition was filed.

Analysis and Decision

Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 contemplates that the wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law, ie. the present petitioner.

Proviso to Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 contemplates that the respondent has to demonstrate that she on her own is unable to maintain herself.

Thus, it is in the above-stated eventuality that she can claim maintenance from the estate of her husband, still, fact remains that the said burden can be discharged by respondent1 at an appropriate stage.

Further, the court stated that the maintenance awarded to the respondent 1 to the tune of Rs 40,000 and to respondent  2, grandson of Rs 30,000 appears to be justified, considering the income drawn by the petitioner.

High Court stated that it cannot see any material illegalities to infer that the impugned order runs contrary to the scheme of Section 19 of the Act. Hence no case for interference will be made out in the present petition. [Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Mathroo v. Harneet Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 927, decided on 07-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A.P. Thaker, J., dismissed an application that was filed on being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order of maintenance passed by the Family Court whereby the petitioner was ordered to pay maintenance of Rs 4, 000 per month to his wife.

The Counsel for the applicant, Jatin Yadav had contended that the respondent had filed an application before the Family Court, Ahmedabad, on the ground that she was deserted by the husband and the husband had not paid any maintenance to her. He further contended that marriage between the parties was solemnized on the false statement of the wife that she was unmarried therefore, he had also filed a criminal complaint against the wife for cheating and the same was pending. He further contended that the wife was serving in a company and was getting Rs.9, 000/as income from that job and, therefore, she was not entitled to get any maintenance from him and that the applicant was earlier working as RTO agent and since the system of online was introduced, he had no such income as has been alleged by the wife.

The Court while dismissing the revision petition stated that after appreciating all the evidence in proper perspective it is clear that the Family Court has not committed any serious error of law and facts. It is incumbent upon the husband to lead evidence with regard to his income. In the present case, wife has fairly admitted that she was working in a private company and was getting Rs 5, 000 per month. As against this, the husband had merely stated that he was working as RTO agent and now due to coming into operation of the online system, he was not getting that much income as has been alleged by the wife. At the same time, the husband has not led any evidence regarding his actual income thus; it was the liability of the husband to pay maintenance to his wife.[Ajitbhai Mohanbhai Parghi v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 1228, decided on 03-09-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Shree Chandrashekhar, J., addressed an issue with regard to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code.

In the present revision petition, maintenance order under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been challenged.

Petitioner-Husband’s wife stated that her husband was irresponsible towards the conjugal relationship and neglected to maintain her. The matrimonial suit which was instituted by the husband seeking a divorce decree was disposed of on a compromise between the parties.

Petitioner’s counsel, Sanjay Prasad contended that the above-stated matrimonial suit was decreed “as per terms of the compromise” under which the wife had relinquished all her claims against the petitioner, hence petitioner’s wife was not entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC.

In the Supreme Court decision of Nagendrappa Natikar v. Neelamma, (2014) 14 SCC 452, Court dealt with the issue of whether a wife who has agreed for permanent alimony and given up future claim for maintenance is entitled to maintenance under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 after the divorce?

To the above, the Supreme Court responded that

“The proceeding under Section 125 CrPC is summary in nature and intended to provide a speedy remedy to the wife and any order passed under Section 125 CrPC by compromise or otherwise cannot foreclose the remedy available to a wife under Section 18(2) of the Act.”

In the present matter, Family Court Judge had observed that permanent alimony or maintenance was not given by the petitioner and the wife was unable to maintain herself. Hence, the Court awarded Rs 5000 monthly maintenance to the wife.

Object of Section 125 CrPC is to ensure that a wife, minor children or helpless parents do not suffer in penury.

High Court declined to interfere in the present matter keeping in mind the limitation under revisional jurisdiction and therefore dismissed the criminal revision.[Umesh Prasad Mahto v. Puspa Devi, 2020 SCC OnLine Jhar 645, decided on 06-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: S. Talapatra, J., while addressing a matter with regard to provision of maintenance, observed that,

When one statute ensures maintenance for the person to be in the relationship in the nature of marriage, the other statute cannot be interpreted to abrogate the provision relating to grant of maintenance.

Petitioner has questioned the legality of Judgment passed by the Family Court, West Tripura Agartala on 17-06-2019, wherein the petitioner was asked to pay maintenance of Rs 4000 to the respondent.

Crux of the challenge

Marriage of a woman with a man while his spouse is alive and their marital relation has not come to an end, the marriage is a complete nullity.

Thus, any court invoking its jurisdiction under Section 125 of the CrPC cannot pass two different maintenance orders against the person considering two women as his spouse. Thus, it has been contended that the respondent is not entitled to maintenance.

Facts

Petitioner was married to Sabitri Das at the time of the alleged marriage with respondent, the marriage with respondent in this situation is not even legal.

Even though the petitioner had a spouse living at the relevant point of time, but the fact was grossly suppressed from the respondent at the time of the marriage.

Purpose of Section 125 of the CrPC is well noted in K. Vimal v. K. Veeraswammy, (1991) 2 SCC 375 in the following words:

“Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is meant to achieve a social purpose. The object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution. It provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.”

Benjamin N. Cardozo in The Nature of Judicial Process observed that,

“…The social context judging had also been recognized in the legal maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat. Where alternative constructions are possible, the court must give effect to that which will be responsible for smooth-working of the system for which purpose the statute has been enacted rather than one which will put a road block in its way.”

A woman who lived like a wife and in the perception she was treated as the wife cannot be deprived of the maintenance. For this purpose a co-terminus provision for granting maintenance may be looked into and a uniformity in the definition may be brought in.

In the present matter, respondent was not aware of the fact that the petitioner was already married, but they both have lived for 10 years as husband and wife.

Petitioner failed to disprove the above-stated and in view of the said no infirmity was found in the Family Court’s decision.

High Court has added to its decision that,

Failure in making payment shall be dealt with sternly.[Sri Bibhuti Ranjan Das v. Gouri Das, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 280 , decided on 07-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of S. Manikumar ,CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J. dismissed a writ petition on account of maintenance expenditure incurred by school even during lockdown.

The petitioners in the present case are students of Sree Buddha Central School who filed the instant petition seeking to direct the State Government to issue directions to the School for providing quality online/virtual class using modern video conferencing techniques along with charging only monthly tuition fees and to ensure that no student is denied the same on the reason of failure to pay fees.

The counsel of the petitioners Manu Ramchandran and Sameer M. Nair submitted while referring to Rule 29 of the Kerala Education Rules, 1959 that respondent school is a recognized school and, therefore, cannot charge fees more than the prescribed as schools can only charge fees to the extent of the expenses for running it and the levy of fees is to be without any profit motive.  He further submitted that during the lockdown from March to May, 2020, schools were closed and online classes commenced only from June 2020. Students have been asked to pay tuition fees for the above said period also wherein such digital classes were in the form of poor quality education as it was given through voice notes on whatsapp instead of proper and quality based online classes.

The counsels for the respondents were Surin George IPE, S. Nirmal, R.T. Pradeep, M. Bindudas and K.C. Harish. It was submitted by the respondent school that the school is only levying the fees charged on the former year without enhancing a single pie. It was further submitted that teaching, non teaching staff and IT professionals who were engaged in training teachers about online classes have to be paid their monthly salary, no matter whether there was lock down or not.

The Court, on hearing both sides observed that no separate annual fee was demanded by the respondent school whereas the fees charged for the previous year and the current year is same and there is no change in the same. Hence, the Court further accepting the argument that monthly salaries for the teaching and non-teaching staff has to be paid, found no irregularity or illegality in the actions of the respondents.

In view of the above facts and arguments, the petition was dismissed. [Sreelekshmi S. v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2494 , decided on 30-06-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee, JJ has given a split verdict on the issue whether a Family Court can convert the petition for maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. to one under Section 3 or Section 4 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. The matter has, hence, been referred to a larger bench.

Background of the case

  • A Muslim woman filed a petition under Section 125 Cr.P.C. alleging that she was subjected to cruelty and harassment for additional dowry and that she was thrown out of matrimonial home.
  • Family Court held that as the appellant is a Muslim divorced woman, her petition for maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. is not maintainable.
  • Treating the application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. as application under Section 3 of the Muslim Women’s Protection Act in the light of the judgment in Iqbal Bano v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2007) 6 SCC 785, the Family Court directed the husband to pay rupees three lakh in lump sum to appellant towards her maintenance and future livelihood.
  • Rajasthan High Court held that the order of the Family Court converting the application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. into an application under Section 3 of the Act is without jurisdiction and on those findings, set aside the order of the Family 3 Court to that extent.

Banumathi, J’s opinion

Holding that the Family Court cannot convert the petition for maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. to one under Section 3 or Section 4 of the Act of 1986, Banumathi , J said

“the application under Section 3(2) of the Act of 1986 by the divorced wife has to be filed before the competent Magistrate having jurisdiction if she claims maintenance beyond the iddat period. Even if the Family Court has been established in that area, the Family Court not having been conferred the jurisdiction under Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to entertain an application filed under Section 3 of the Muslim Women Protection Act, the Family Court shall have no jurisdiction to entertain an application under Section 3(2) of the Act of 1986.

On Section 3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986

Section 3 of 1986 Act opens with the words “notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force,” a divorced woman shall be entitled to rights enumerated in clauses (a) to (d) of Section 3(1) of 1986 Act. Muslim Women Protection Act may have conferred more rights but the Act confers these rights notwithstanding anything contained in Section 125 Cr.P.C. The nonobstante clause has to be understood fairly and reasonably. The non-obstante clause cannot be lightly assumed to bring in the effect of supersession. It should not be allowed to demolish or extinguish the existing right unless the legislative intention is clear, manifest and unambiguous.

On Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1984

The expression “conferred on it” occurring in sub-clause (b) of Section 7(2) speaks of conferment of the jurisdiction on the Family Court by an enactment. Thus, under Section 7(2)(b), the jurisdiction must be specifically conferred and cannot be assumed or deemed to have been conferred. The provisions of the Muslim Women’s Protection Act do not confer any jurisdiction on the Family Court.

Conclusion

Section 3(2) of the Muslim Women’s Protection Act provides that the application may be made to a Magistrate; but not to the Family Court. Also, the Muslim Women’s Protection Act was enacted in 1986 subsequent to the Family Courts Act, 1984. Hence, the Family Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition under Sections 3 and 4 of the Act of 1986 and that the Family Court cannot convert the petition for maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. to one under Section 3 or Section 4 of the Act of 1986.

Banerjee, J’s opinion

Disagreeing with Justice Banumathi’s opinion, Banerjee, J said

“Family Courts Act is a secular statute, which applies to matters contemplated therein, irrespective of the religion of the litigating parties.”

On Family Court’s scope of power to lay down procedure

Notwithstanding sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) of Section 10 of the Family Courts Act, which makes the provisions of the CPC applicable to suits and proceedings before the Family Court, other than those under Chapter IX of the Cr.P.C., and the provisions of the Cr.P.C. applicable to all the proceedings under Chapter IX of that Code, it is open to the Family Court to lay down its own procedure with a view to arrive at a settlement in respect of the subject matter of the suit or proceeding.

On Territorial Jurisdiction of Family Courts

Where a Family Court has been established for any area, Section 8 of the Family Courts Act denudes the District Court or any Subordinate Civil Court referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 7 of jurisdiction in respect of any suit or proceeding of the nature referred to in the Explanation to that sub-section. Section 8(b) of the Family Courts Act prohibits any Magistrate from exercising jurisdiction or powers under Chapter IX of the CR.P.C. in relation to any area for which a Family Court has been established.

On Overriding effect of Family Courts Act

It is important to note that Section 20 of the Family Courts Act, with its non-obstante clause gives the provisions of the Family Courts Act overriding effect, over any other law, which would include the 1986 Act for Muslim Women. The Family Courts Act is to have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith, contained in any other law, for the time being in force, or in any instrument having effect, by virtue of any law other than the Family Courts Act.

“the expression “in any other law, for the time being in force”, cannot be construed narrowly to mean a law which was in force on the date of enactment and/or enforcement of the Family Courts Act”

There is no conflict between Section 3(2) of the 1986 Act for Muslim women and the Family Courts Act. On the other hand, Section 20 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 gives overriding effect to the Family Courts Act notwithstanding anything therewith contained in any other law in force. The Family Court is to exercise all the jurisdiction exercisable by any District Court or any other subordinate Civil court in respect of a proceeding for maintenance.

Conclusion

Banerjee, J, hence, concluded that there can be no dispute that the Family Court alone has jurisdiction in respect of personal and family matters relating to women and men, irrespective of their religion. Family matters of Muslim women pertaining inter alia to marriage, divorce etc. are decided by Family Courts, as also claims of Muslim wives to maintenance under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C.

“There could be no reason to single out divorced Muslim wives to deny them access to the Family Courts, and that in my view, was never the legislative intent of the 1986 Act for Muslim Women.”

[Rana Nahid v. Sahisul Haq Chisti, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 522 , decided on 18.06.2020]

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: While reviewing the measures taken by the J&K State Legal Services Authority and paralegal volunteers in collecting information regarding the status of petitioners in whose favour the Court had passed orders of maintenance, the Division Bench of Gita Mittal, CJ., and Vinod Chatterji Koul, J., directed the Union Territory Government to examine the possibility of providing assistance to such petitioners in order to enable their survival and sustenance. The Court also clarified that payment of any amount by the Government is only a temporary measure and, the same shall not create any rights in favour of the petitioners.

On perusing the list of petitioners in whose favour, maintenance orders were passed, the Court observed that either due to Covid-19 restrictions or loss of employment because of the pandemic, the respondents were unable to comply with the maintenance order. The Court also noted that the Union Territory Government already has been furnished with the list containing complete details of the petitioners.

The Court further directed that a copy of the list should also be provided to Aseem Sawhney, AAG who shall ensure that the matter is immediately addressed in right earnest. The Court also directed the JKSLSA to file a report regarding all those petitions where maintenance has been sought under any law, within one week. [Court on its Motion v. Union Territory of J&K and Ladakh, 2020 SCC OnLine J&K 290 , decided on 16-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: N.J. Jamdar, J., while addressing a revision application with regard to maintenance under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 held that,

Statutory right of wife of maintenance cannot be permitted to be bartered away or infringed by setting up an agreement not to claim maintenance.

Wife cannot be denied maintenance on the ground of having a source of income.

Family Court’s Judgment was challenged in the present revision application whereby, Order for payment of Rs 15,000 per month to wife under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, was passed.

Applicant claimed that since inception of marital life applicant faced extreme cruelty and was subjected to harassment.

Respondent after leaving the applicant to her parental home at Satara did not come to fetch back the applicant due to which police intervention was allowed, after which applicant started reside separately.

To avoid harassment from respondent, applicant signed the documents for presenting a petition for obtaining divorce by mutual consent, accordingly a decree of divorce was obtained. Despite the same, respondent continued to visit applicant’s apartment and had marital relations as well.

Respondent had not made ay provision for the maintenance and livelihood of the applicant and applicant also had no source of income.

Hence, applicant was constrained to prefer application for award of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

Family Court had held that

“Applicant being a wife, despite being a divorcee, within the meaning of Explanation (b) to Section 125(1) of the Code, the agreement to reside separately from the Respondent does not disentitle her from claiming maintenance.”

Bench while addressing the present application observed that,

“There is no material on record to indicate at any point of time till the filing of the instant Petition for award of maintenance the Applicant had ever raised any grievance about the decree of divorce having been obtained by fraud.”

Supreme Court in the case — Rohtash Singh v. Ramendri, (2000) 3 SCC 180, considered the question whether a wife against whom a decree of divorce has been passed on account of her deserting the husband can claim maintenance allowance under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure?

To the above, Supreme Court held that,

woman after divorce becomes destitute. If she cannot maintain herself and remains unmarried, the man who was once her husband continues to be under a duty and obligation to provide maintenance to her.

Statutory right of wife of maintenance cannot be permitted to be bartered away or infringed by setting up an agreement not to claim maintenance. Such a clause in the agreement would be void under Section 23 of the Indian Contract Act, being opposed the public policy.

Further the Court observed that,

The decree of divorce by mutual consent was passed in the year 2007. The application for award of maintenance came to be preferred in the year 2016. The Applicant was indubitably running a business under the name and style of “Kalyani Beauty Parlor and Training Institute” when the decree of divorce was passed in the year 2007.

Time lag of almost 9 years in approaching the Court with a claim that the Applicant was unable to maintain herself assumes critical significance in this context.

Family Court was of the view that the claim of the Applicant that she had no source of income was reliable and trustworthy and though the Applicant had the necessary qualification and experience, there was nothing to show that the Applicant was running the business of beauty parlor, in praesenti.

In High Court’s opinion in the backdrop of the material on record, the claim of the Applicant that she had no source of income ought to have been accepted by the Judge, Family Court with a pinch of salt.

High Court observes that,

the fact that the wife carries on some business and earns some money is not the end of the matter. Neither the mere potential to earn nor the actual earning, howsoever meager it may be, is sufficient to deny the claim of maintenance.

Supreme Court in the case of Sunita Kachwa v. Anil Kachwa, III 2014 (DMC) 878 S.C., held that: 

“In any event, merely because the wife was earning something, it would not be a ground to reject her claim for maintenance.”

Thus the Applicant is entitled to maintenance from the Respondent even if the Applicant still carries on the business of Kalyani Beauty Parlor and Training Centre and earns some income out of the said business.

In this era of inflationary economy, where the prices of commodities and services are increasing day by day, the income from the business of beauty parlor, which has an element of seasonality, may not be sufficient to support the livelihood of the Applicant.

Impugned order is required to be interfered with to the extent of the quantum of maintenance. The Revision Application, thus, deserves to be partly allowed to this extent.

Hence, Respondent-husband shall pay maintenance to the Applicant at the rate of Rs 12,000/- per month from the date of the Petition i.e. 17th June, 2016.[Sanjay Damodar Kale v. Kalyani Sanjay Kale, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 694, decided on 26-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., while addressing the present petition against the order of family Court wherein the petitioner’s maintenance petition under Section 125 CrPC was dismissed, held that,

“Merely because the wife is ‘capable of earning’ is not a sufficient reason to deny her the maintenance.”

Petitioner’s counsel contended that Family Court wrongly came to the conclusion that petitioner’s testimony in absence of any documentary evidence was unreliable. It erred in not recording a finding with respect to the income of the respondent and the maintenance sought by petitioner.

Respondent’s counsel submitted that petitioner had passed the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) exam and was capable of earning. Further, it stated that the petitioner was more qualified than the respondent and could maintain herself.

High Court’s Decision

Court noted that in the maintenance petition it was mentioned that respondent used to demand a Santro car despite the fact that one motorcycle was given in dowry.  During the petitioner’s pregnancy, she was physically assaulted by the respondent and his family members that resulted in her miscarriage.

On one occasion she was physically assaulted and thrown out of the matrimonial home, hence she had to live separately as the respondent was deserted and she had no other source of income.

Family Court had disbelieved petitioner’s testimony on the ground that no documentary evidence was placed in support of her allegations.

“It is well settled by catena of judicial precedents that the provisions of Section 125 CrPC are for the welfare of the neglected wives, children and parents and that provisions should construed liberally.”

Court stated that family court failed to take into account the petitioner’s claim that she was forced to leave the matrimonial home on account of dowry demands and physical assault. And petitioner’s testimony was supported by her complaint to the CAW Cell which was proved on record.

Bench also found the averment in her petition that specifically averred that she had no source of income and was totally dependent on her father. The respondent being employed had sufficient means to maintain her.

Expression “unable to maintain herself” does not mean that the wife must be absolutely destitute before she can apply for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC.

For the above, Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in, Vinny Parmvir Parmar v. Parmvir Parmar, (2011) 13 SCC 112. Along with this, Court also observed the decision of the Supreme Court in Sunita Kachwaha. v. Anil Kachwaha, (2014) 16 SCC 715.

Thus, in view of the above, the High Court held that impugned order is to be set aside and matter to be remanded back to the family court for fresh consideration. [Anita v. Amit, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 468, decided on 24-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., allowed a criminal revision petition filed by the complainant-wife challenging the order of the family court whereby the maintenance of Rs 20,000 under Section 125 CrPC was awarded to her only from the date of the order.

The wife represented by Amitabh Kumar Verma, Advocate, contended that the family court ought to have granted the maintenance from the date of the application filed under Section 125. Per contra, Charu Bharadwaj, Advocate appearing for the respondent-husband supported the order passed by the family court.

After considering the facts of the case, the High Court reiterated: “the maintenance to a wife is not a bounty but is the award so that she can survive, it is normally to be awarded from the date of the application. In the present case, the family court, while passing the final order, has not given any reasons as to why the maintenance was awarded only from the date of the passing of the order and not from the date of filing of the petition.” It was noted that Section 354(6) CrPC requires that every final order under Section 125, should contain the pints for determination, the decision thereon and the reasons for the decision. One of the points to be determined while awarding maintenance is the time from which such maintenance is to be granted. Since the final order passed by the family court did not mention any reason or justification for the award of the maintenance from the date of the order, it was set aside only to the aforesaid limited extent.

Furthermore, placing reliance on Jaiminiben Hirenbhai Vyas v. Hirenbhai Rameshchandra Vyas, (2015) 2 SCC 385Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, (2015) 6 SCC 353Nisha Saifi v. Mohd. Shahid, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7902; and Bimla Devi v. Shamsher Singh, 2015 SCC OnLine Del 11553, the High Court observed: “Once the court comes to a conclusion that the wife is entitled to an award of maintenance, the assessment relates back to the date of the application and as such there have to be compelling reasons for the family court to restrict the award of maintenance from the date of the order and not from the date of the application.”

In such view of the matter, the final order passed by the family court was modified to the extent that the husband will pay the maintenance to the wife amounting to Rs 20,000 from the date of the filing of the application. The husband was further directed to clear the entire amount of arrears within a period of six months. [Asha Karki v. Rajesh Karki, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 444, decided on 29-01-2020]

Op EdsOP. ED.

Let’s have a look at the Most-Viewed Blog Posts of the SCC Online Blog in the Year 2019:

“Over the years there have been many important changes in the way cheques are issued/bounced/dealt with. Commercial globalisation has resulted in giving a big boost to our country. With the rapid increase in commerce and trade, use of cheque also increased and so did the cheque bouncing disputes.[1] The object of Sections 138-142 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881  is to promote the efficacy of banking operations and to ensure credibility in transacting business through cheques.[2]”

Section 498-A was introduced in the year 1983 to protect married women from being subjected to cruelty by the husband or his relatives. A punishment extending to 3 years and fine has been prescribed. The expression “cruelty” has been defined in wide terms so as to include inflicting physical or mental harm to the body or health of the woman and indulging in acts of harassment with a view to coerce her or her relations to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security. Harassment for dowry falls within the sweep of latter limb of the section. Creating a situation driving the woman to commit suicide is also one of the ingredients of “cruelty”.

  • Economically Weaker Section (EWS) | Reservation For EWSs In Direct Recruitment in Civil Posts And Services In Government of India

  • Adultery [S. 497 IPC and S. 198(2) CrPC]

    The word “adultery” derives its origin from the French word “avoutre”, which has evolved from the Latin verb “adulterium” which means “to corrupt”[1]. The dictionary meaning of adultery is that a married man commits adultery if he has sex with a woman with whom he has not entered into wedlock.

    Under Indian law, Section 497 IPC  makes adultery a criminal offence, and prescribes a punishment of imprisonment upto five years and fine. The offence of adultery under Section 497 is very limited in scope as compared to the misconduct of adultery as understood in divorce proceedings. The offence is committed only by a man who had sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without the latter’s consent or connivance. The wife is not punishable for being an adulteress, or even as an abettor of the offence[2]. Section 198 CrPC deals with a “person aggrieved”. Sub-section (2) treats the husband of the woman as deemed to be aggrieved by an offence committed under Section 497 IPC and in the absence of husband, some person who had care of the woman on his behalf at the time when such offence was committed, with the permission of the court. It does not consider the wife of the adulterer as an aggrieved person.

    Section 497 IPC and Section 198(2) CrPC together constitute a legislative packet to deal with the offence of adultery[3]which have been held unconstitutional and struck down by the Supreme Court in Joseph Shine v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1676.

  • Maintenance – Wife

“Maintenance” is an amount payable by the husband to his wife who is unable to maintain herself either during the subsistence of marriage or upon separation or divorce. Various laws governing maintenance are as follows:

for Hindus – Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956

for Muslims – Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986

for Parsis – Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

for Christians – Divorce Act, 1869

secular laws – Criminal Procedure Code, 1973; Special Marriage Act,1954.

  • Live-In Relationship and Indian Judiciary

    It is being truly said that the only thing which is constant in this world is change. Indian society has observed a drastic change in its living pattern in the past few years. People are slowly and gradually opening their minds towards the idea of pre-marital sex and live-in relationships. However, this change has been continuously under criticism and highly discussed as such concepts lack legality and acceptance by society. Unlike marriage, in live-in relationships, couples are not married to each other but live together under the same roof that resembles a relation like marriage. In other words, we can say it is a cohabitation. In India, only those relations between a man and a woman is considered to be legitimate where marriage has taken place between the two based on existing marriage laws otherwise all other sort of relationships are deemed to be illegitimate.

    The reason behind people choosing to have a live-in relationship is to check the compatibility between couples before getting legally married. It also exempts partners from the chaos of family drama and lengthy court procedures in case the couple decides to break-up. Whatever the reason, it is very evident that in a conventional society like ours, where the institution of marriage is considered to be “sacred” an increasing number of couples choose to have a live-in relationship, even as a perpetual plan, over marriage. In such circumstances, many legal and social issues have arisen which have become the topic of debate. With time many incidents have been reported and seen where partners in live-in relationships or a child born out of such relationship have remained vulnerable for the very simple reason that such relationships have been kept outside the realm of law. There has been gross misuse by the partners in live-in relationships since they do not have any duties and responsibilities to perform. This article seeks to analyse the judicial response to the concept of live-in relationships so far. It also talks about the rights available to live-in partners in India and also, what is the status of children born out of such relationships.

  • Bom HC | Order of Maintenance under DV Act set aside in absence of any act of Domestic Violence committed by Husband

  • Maintenance – Children and Parents

In India, beneficial provisions for maintenance of children and parents are provided under various Acts. Objective of such provisions is to achieve a social purpose and to prevent vagrancy and destitution and to provide simple, inexpensive and speedy mechanism for providing support and maintenance to children and parents.

“the limited interest or Hindu Woman’s Estate [acquired under Section 3 of the Hindu Women’s Right Property Act] shall be held by the widow as full owner in terms of provisions of Section 14(1) of Hindu Succession Act, 1956?

“Section 23 of the DV Act does not provide a substantive right to parties but is a provision which empowers the trial court to pass an order granting interim maintenance in a petition filed under Section 12 of the DV Act. Merely because the trial court has not exercised the power under Section 23 of the DV Act, when a substantive petition under Section 12 of DV Act was filed and chose to pass an order only when a separate application under Section 23 of the DV Act was filed, does not mean that a Magistrate does not have the power to pass an order with effect from the date of filing of the substantive petition under Section 12.”


† Legal Editor, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., dismissed the petitions filed by the petitioner questioning the order of denial of maintenance to her.

The petitioner was a divorced wife. The respondent (ex-husband of the petitioner) had attained a decree of divorce against her under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956, on grounds of adultery. The said decree had attained finality.

Thereafter, the respondent (ex-husband) moved an application under the provisions of Section 125(4) of CrPC for cancellation of maintenance granted to the wife. The said application was rejected in the first instance by the trial court but was allowed on revision by the Additional Sessions Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the instant petitions.

Mahendra B. Deshmukh, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that even if there is a decree of divorce passed on the allegation of adultery, still bar under sub-section (4) of Section 125 CrPC, will not be attracted. It was contended that even after divorce, the petitioner continued to be a woman under Explanation (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 125. Per contra, Kavyal P. Shah, counsel for the respondent, submitted that the statutory embargo under sub-section (4) applied to the instant case.

Notably, sub-section (4) Section 125 CrPC says:

“(4) No wife shall be entitled to receive an allowance for the maintenance or the interim maintenance and expenses of proceeding, as the case may be, from her husband under this section if she is living in adultery, or if, without any sufficient reason, she refuses to live with her husband, or if they are living separately by mutual consent.”

Considering the rival submissions, the High Court observed: “The fact remains that, there is an expressed embargo on the right of a woman to claim maintenance, pursuant to the provisions under sub-section (4) of Section 125 CrPC, If the allegation of adultery is proved against such a women or in spite of the husband being ready to maintain her and she refuses to cohabit the women/wife can be refused payment of maintenance.”

In such view of the matter, the Court found no merit in the instant petitions. Accordingly, the petitions were dismissed.[Sanjivani Ramchandra Kondalkar v. Ramchandra Bhimrao Kondalkar, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 6581, decided on 18-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of the Family Court whereby the petitioner-husband was directed to pay interim maintenance of Rs 33,005 per month to the respondent-wife and their minor child.

The above order was made by the Magistrate while deciding the application under Section 125 CrPC filed by the respondent wherein she alleged that she was thrown out of the matrimonial home and was living at her paternal home along with the minor child. She had stated that had no source of income and claimed Rs 80,000 per month as maintenance. The petitioner submitted that he was an Executive Chef in a hotel in Goa and his monthly salary was Rs 88,000. He stated that he was looking after his old-aged parents and had other liabilities towards loan and rent.

S.C. Vats, Advocate for the petitioner, referred to the bio data of the wife and submitted that she was professionally qualified, an LL.B graduate, and was earning well. Per contra, Rajesh Sharma, Advocate for the respondent, opposed the instant review petition.

The High Court noted that besides placing on record the bio data of the wife, which was disputed, the husband did not produce any document to prove that the wife was actually earning. Reliance was placed on Shailja v. Khobbana, (2018) 12 SCC 199, wherein the Supreme Court held that “capable earning” and “actual earning” are two different requirements. Merely because the wife is capable of earning was held not to be a sufficient reason to reduce the maintenance awarded by the Family Court.

It was noted that the petitioner’s contention, in absence of any supporting document, remains a disputed question to be tested in the trial. In the impugned order, the Family Court had recorded that any amount paid as maintenance in favour of the respondent would be liable to be adjusted.

In such view of the matter, the High Court found no illegality in the order passed by the Family Court. Resultantly, the instant revision petition was dismissed. [Arun Vats v. Pallavi Sharma, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 11817, decided on 06-12-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: Buwaneka Aluwihare, PC J., Vijith K. Malalgoda, PC J. and Murdu N. B. Fernando, PC J., dismissed an appeal filed which had arisen from an order relating to an application for the payment of maintenance to a spouse. 

The Applicant-Appellant Respondent had made an application to the Magistrate’s Court for maintenance for the child born out of her marriage to the Respondent-Respondent-Petitioner-Appellant and for herself and when the matter was taken up the parties had agreed on a settlement and subsequently the application was withdrawn by the applicant. After four months she had filed a fresh application for an increased amount of maintenance to which the magistrate had rejected the application stating that the applicant was in a condition to maintain herself. Aggrieved by which she had filed an appeal in the provincial high court and the high court had granted an order providing her maintenance for a sum of Rs 20,000. Aggrieved by which the respondent had filed the instant appeal for setting aside the decision of the provincial high court.

The Court while dismissing the appeal explained that the High Court has not referred to the loss of employment of the Respondent-Appellant nor his income through computer repairs, upon considering the evidence adduced regarding the financial situation of the Respondent-Appellant, thus they see no reason to alter the orders of the high court thus there was no failure on the part of the High Court Judge to consider the Applicant’s capacity to earn an income or to be gainfully employed. [Chandana Thilaka Karunapala v. Dona Ahangama Anoma Kanthi Liyanage, SC Appeal 126 of 2014, decided on 15-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: Arup Kumar Goswami, CJ., dismissed the petition against the refusal to pay maintenance to the wife because she allegedly committed adultery.

The parties were married to each other but had three daughters out of wedlock. The husband with the help of the second daughter threw out the wife alleging that she had an extramarital affair. The wife alleged that she was mentally and physically tortured by the husband and had to live with her brother. The second daughter stated that she witnessed her mother commit adultery as she was in a room with another man. The petitioner moved the High Court when the Family Court allowed the wife’s claim of maintenance.

Advocate Gita Bista on behalf of the petitioner argued that the daughter saw her mother with another man inside a room and there is no reason as to why a daughter would depose falsely against her own mother, implying that wife left her husband on her own volition and hence is not entitled to any maintenance.

Legal Aid Counsel, Tashi Norbu Basi on behalf of the respondent contended that there is no conclusive proof that the wife committed adultery; they might be in the same room for some other purpose. He further submits maintenance can be denied if she is living in adultery, which is not the same thing as a single lapse from virtue.

The Court concluded that the wife hadn’t eloped but rather was forced out of her matrimonial home and that the allegations made by the husband of his wife having extramarital affairs were false as he did it with a number of people including her brother too. Further, the court stated that if the wife leaves the house of the husband because of torture and constant allegations, it cannot be said that there is no sufficient reason for the wife to leave her husband.

In the case of M.P. Subramaniyam v. T.T. Ponnakshiamal 1957 SCC Online Kar 18, Karnatka High Court considered the term “living in adultery” appearing in Section 488(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898   which is also used in Section 125(4) of the CrPC. The Court concluded that it is not a stray act or two of Adultery that disentitles the wife from claiming maintenance from her husband, but it is a course of continuous conduct on her part it can be said that she is living an adulterous life that takes away her right to claim maintenance. There was no evidence of a continuous course of conduct demonstrating that the wife was living in adultery, hence, she can claim maintenance. [Suk Bir Chettri v. Jamuna Chettri, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 185, decided on 08-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Hitesh Kumar Sarma, J., while disposing of a criminal revision petition filed against the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, modified the date from which the amount of maintenance was to be paid by the petitioner-husband to the respondent-wife on an application filed by her under Section 125 CrPC.

The parties were married to each other. After about 3-4 months of the marriage, the respondent left the matrimonial home on the pretext of visiting her ailing brother, and never returned. She has been living separately ever since. Subsequently, she filed an application under Section 125 CrPC, claiming maintenance from the petitioner. the case of the respondent was that starting from the very first night of marriage, she was subjected to torture by her husband and in-laws for not bringing a dowry of Rs 10,000 and other property.

The Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate held that the respondent was not able to prove her case and therefore, rejected her application. The Additional Sessions Judge, however, reversed that decision and directed the petitioner to pay Rs 1000 per month to the respondent. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the instant revision petition.

On perusal of the record, the High Court noted: “While there is an allegation of torture on the wife/respondent by the petitioner/husband, the fact remains that she was not driven out by her husband and she left on her own. This fact is not denied by the petitioner/husband and as such remained intact. This Court is also mindful of the fact that the respondent/wife left the company of the petitioner/husband within 2/3 months of their marriage and in the back of her mind, the fact that she was subjected to torture was always playing and the fact of torture evidently is not denied by the petitioner in his evidence.”

On such facts, the Court observed: “Although the respondent/wife left the house tangibly on her own yet the circumstances, as appears from the evidence, are such that the wife/respondent had to leave the house of the petitioner/husband under compelling reasons due to the torture meted out to her although such fact was not disclosed in so many words in her petition. No attempt by the petitioner/husband to take her back and also not providing maintenance during her separate stay for a long time is indicative of lack of persuasion on his part although an effort to persuade would have been the course usually adopted by any husband.”

In the circumstances aforesaid, the High Court was of the opinion that the finding in the impugned order that the respondent was entitled to maintenance was correct. It was, however, held that the petitioner would pay the amount of maintenance as directed, not from the date of application before the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate; but only from the date of order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge. Order was made accordingly. [Pradip Das Sarkar v. Uma Sarkar, 2019 SCC OnLine Gau 5017, decided on 07-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: In a civil application filed by an ex-wife for reimbursement of her child’s educational expenses in Australia amounting to Rs 1.2 crores among other things, a division bench comprising of Akil Kureshi and S.J. Kathawalla, JJ. observed that if a divorced husband is not consulted by his ex-wife on the decision concerning the education of their child, he is not liable to bear the entire cost for the educational expenses.

The Bench opined that when a ward is being sent abroad for education which entails considerable expenditure, the concurrence of both parents, particularly one who is expected to bear the expenditure, is necessary. The Court further stated that the husband certainly has a right to inquire about the university where the child is admitted, the course being pursued, the aptitude of the child in the particular branch of education etc and therefore it would not be fair if the applicant-wife took a unilateral decision of such magnitude and simply sent the bill for the expenditure to the father.

The Court refused to let husband bear full expenses of his ward’s foreign education but looking at his financial capacity and since his daughter was performing well at her course in Australia, found it appropriate to direct him to bear a part of his daughter’s expenses amounting to Rs 25 Lakhs towards the said cause. [Sheetal v. Deepak Govindram Bhatija, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 3822, decided on 17-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. set aside the maintenance awarded to the respondent under Section 125 CrPC as the respondent is able to maintain herself.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner moved to this Court against the impugned order wherein Rs 3,000 per month maintenance was awarded in favour of the respondent, the ex-wife of the petitioner and Rs 2,000 per month each in favour of their children. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondent has already been divorced by him and she herself is a teacher earning sufficiently to maintain herself. He also contended that the application was under Section 125 of the CrPC, is invoked by the Court only when the wife is unable to maintain herself, and in the present case, the wife herself earning sufficient amount is able to maintain herself, and, thus, the application under Section 125 of the Code was not fit to be allowed in her favour. 

The counsel for the respondent submitted that the respondent is a contractual teacher and payments are not made on a regular basis and, thus, she also requires financial support.

High Court held that the maintenance allowed in the favour of the respondent under Section 125 of the Code requires to be interfered with as the same is to be awarded to a wife, which includes a woman who has been divorced, only if she is unable to maintain herself and in the present case, the respondent is able to maintain herself hence, the same not being fulfilled, the Court set aside the order awarding Rs 3,000 per month as maintenance to the respondent.

The Court did not interfere with the award of maintenance of Rs 2000 per month to the children. [Masud Ahmed v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1880, decided on 14-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Alok Aradhe, J. admitted the petitions under Article 227 of the Constitution of India for quashment of the order of the Judge of the Principal Family Court, Bengaluru.

In the instant case, parties got married on 29.05.1998 as per Hindu rites. The petitioner – husband sought for dissolution of marriage under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 whereas respondent-wife for restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9.

These petitions are pending before the Principal Judge, Family Court.

In respect of the proceeding under Section 13 of the Act, the Family Court granted maintenance of Rs 8,000 per month and Rs 20,000 for litigation expenses by an order on 16.10.2017. Without taking note of the order already passed, the same Court passed an order on 05.12.2017 under Section 9 of the Act and again awarded a sum of Rs 8,000 towards maintenance and Rs 10,000 towards one-time litigation expenses.

The Court after hearing H. Ramachandra, Counsel for the petitioner and Adithya Kumar H.R. for the respondent observed that the Family Court did not take note of its earlier order before passing the order on 05.12.2017. Therefore, the order passed on 05.12.2017 cannot be sustained in the eyes of law.

The Court further directed the Family Court to decide the respondent’s application afresh.

Moreover, the Court observed that the provisions in Karnataka (Case Flow Management in Subordinate Court) Rules, 2005 provide that matrimonial disputes should be decided within one year. The proceeding under Section 13 of the Act was initiated in the year 2014. Therefore, the Court directed the Family Court to expeditiously conclude the proceedings within four months of the order of this Court. [Chandrashekar v. Shylaja, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 1828, decided on 12-09-2019]