Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Expressing that husband must also carry the financial burden of making certain that his children are capable of attaining a position in a society wherein they can sufficiently maintain themselves, Subramonium Prasad, J., stated that,

In households wherein the women are working and are earning sufficiently to maintain themselves, it does not automatically mean that the husband is absolved of his responsibility to provide sustenance for his children. 

“…if the husband has sufficient means, he is obligated to maintain his wife and children, and not shirk away from his moral and familial responsibilities.”

Instant application under Section 482 Criminal Procedure Code had been filed seeking the review of this Court’s order, wherein this Court had granted a sum of Rs 15,000 as interim maintenance to the revisionist/Petitioner 1 till Petitioner 2 completes his graduation or starts earning, whichever is earlier.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that the embargo contained in Section 362 CrPC, which prohibits the Court from altering or reviewing its judgment or final order disposing of the case was inapplicable to the maintenance order passed under Section 125 CrPC.

In the Supreme Court decision of Sanjeev Kapoor v. Chandana Kapoor, (2020) 13 SCC 172, the Supreme Court had observed that the legislature was aware that there were situations where altering or reviewing of criminal court judgment were contemplates in the Code itself or any other law for the time being in force.

Noting that Section 125 CrPC was social justice legislation, the Supreme Court held that a closer look at Section 125 CrPC itself indicated that the Court after passing judgment or final order in the proceedings under Section 125 CrPC did not become functus officio, and that the Section itself contains express provisions wherein an Order passed under Section 125 CrPC could be cancelled or altered, and that this was noticeable from Sections 125(1), 125(5) and 127 CrPC. Therefore, the legislative scheme as delineated by Sections 125 and 127 CrPC clearly enumerates circumstances and incidents provided in the Code where the Court passing a judgement or final order disposing of the case can alter or review the same. The embargo as contained in Section 362 is, thus, relaxed in proceedings under Section 125 CrPC.

Bench stated that Supreme Court has consistently upheld that the conceptualization of Section 125 was meant to ameliorate the financial suffering of a woman who had left her matrimonial home; it is a means to secure the woman’s sustenance, along with that of the children, if any.

The dominant purpose of Section 125 of the Code was discussed in the Supreme Court decision of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujarat, (1996) 4 SCC 479.

High Court added to its analysis, that it is true that in the majority of households, women are unable to work due to sociocultural as well as structural impediments, and, thus, cannot financially support themselves. However, in households wherein the women are working and are earning sufficiently to maintain themselves, it does not automatically mean that the husband is absolved of his responsibility to provide sustenance for his children.

Father has an equal duty to provide for his children and there cannot be a situation wherein it is only the mother who has to bear the burden of expenses for raising and educating the children.

 Court cannot shut its eyes to the reality that simply attaining majority does not translate into the understanding that the major son is earning sufficiently.

To elaborate more, High Court added that,

At the age of 18, it can be safely assumed that the son is either graduating from 12th standard or is in his first year of college. More often than not, it does not place him in a position wherein he can earn to sustain or maintain himself. It further places the entire burden on the mother to bear the expenses of educating the children without any contribution from the father, and this Court cannot countenance such a situation.

It was also noted that the Supreme Court and High Courts in a slew of judgments upheld the maintenance allowance granted to a son post attaining majority on the ground that the father has a duty to finance basic education of the child and that the child cannot be deprived of his right to be educated due to his parents getting divorced.

Present Matter

In the present matter, the challenge to the maintenance granted for the education of the major son has been mounted by the respondent on the ground that it is contrary to the relevant statutory provision i.e. Section 125, and that it diametrically opposes the interpretation of Section 125 as has been laid down in Amarendra Kumar Paul v. Maya Paul, (2009) 8 SCC 359.

High Court noted that statutes or provisions, which are particularly for the furtherance of social welfare, must be construed liberally.

In Indian Handicrafts Emporium v. Union of India, (2003) 7 SCC 589, the Supreme Court had observed that the best textual interpretation of legislation or a statutory provision would be one that would match the contextual. Therefore, in this context, social welfare legislation cannot and should not be interpreted in a narrow manner because doing so will defeat the purpose for the enactment of such legislation and will become counterproductive.

Context of Section 125 CrPC is to ensure that the wife and the children of the husband are not left in a state of destitution after the divorce.

“Mother cannot be burdened with the entire expenditure on the education of her son just because he has completed 18 years of age, and the father cannot be absolved of all responsibilities to meet the education expenses of his son because the son may have attained the age of majority, but may not be financially independent and could be incapable of sustaining himself.”

 In view of the above, the application was dismissed. [Urvashi Aggarwal v. Inderpaul Aggarwal, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4641, decided on 5-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

 For Petitioner: Praveen Suri and Komal Chhibber, Advocates

For Respondent: Digvijay Ray and Aman Yadav, Advocates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Anoop Chitkara J. remarked “There is neither any illegality nor the maintenance beyond the petitioner’s means; as such, there are no merits in the present petition.”

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner persuaded and married the respondent when she was a widow with three children. In the beginning, her marital life was good, but later on, his attitude changed, which led to discord, and he even withdrew his financial support. He would spend money on liquor instead of giving it to her and her children. Furthermore, he would abuse, assault, and beat the petitioner on trivial matters. Given such behavior and the absence of financial support, it became impossible for her to reside with him in his house. Consequently, she was forced to shift to the house of her first husband, where Subhash Chand neither paid visit nor gave any money. The petitioner’s wife filed an application under Section 125 Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC, seeking monthly maintenance from the petitioner-husband which was thereby allowed. The petitioner stated that she is still drawing benefits, which is being given to widows, and, as such, her drawing such benefits would show that she never solemnized marriage with him. The husband challenged the said order by filing criminal revision before Sessions Judge, Bilaspur which was dismissed too. Challenging both the orders, the husband filed the instant petition under Section 482 of CrPC.

The Court relied on judgment Ramesh Chander Kaushal v. Veena Kaushal, AIR 1978 SC 1807, wherein it was observed regarding Section 125 CrPC as under:

 “[9]. this provision is a measure of social justice and specially enacted to protect women and children and falls within the constitutional sweep of Article 15 (3) reinforced by Article 39. We have no doubt that section of statutes calling for construction by courts are not petrified print but vibrant words with social functions to fulfil. The brooding presence of the constitutional empathy for the weaker sections like women and children must inform interpretation if it has to have social relevance. So viewed, it is possible to the selective in picking out that interpretation out of two alternatives which advances the cause – the cause of the derelicts.”

The Court observed that S. 125 (1) (a) of CrPC provides grant of maintenance to the wife, unable to maintain herself. Proviso to S. 125 CrPC empowers the Magistrate to order monthly allowance for the interim maintenance and also the expenses of such proceeding during its pendency. The foundation of the measures of social Justice enacted by the Legislature lay beneath the sweep of Article 15 (3) of the Constitution of India. It fulfills the concept of a welfare State in a vibrant democracy by safeguarding wives and children and preventing them from the modes of vagrancy and its consequences. Given above, it would be appropriate for the Courts to direct the person against whom an application is made under S. 125 of the Code to pay some reasonable sum by way of maintenance to the applicant pending final disposal of the application.

The Court further observed that the contents of the wife’s application, which is supported by her affidavit, prima-facie make out just grounds for the wife to live separately and that she could not sustain financially, making out a case for interim maintenance.

The Court thus held “There is neither any illegality nor the maintenance beyond the petitioner’s means; as such, there are no merits in the present petition. Furthermore, if the Court concludes that Krishani Devi played fraud upon Subhash Chand, it would undoubtedly have consequences. Given above, the impugned orders are well reasoned and call for no interference.”

[Subhash Chand v. Krishani Devi, 2021 SCC OnLine HP 7309, decided on 20-09-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearances

For Petitioner- Adv. T S Chauhan

For Respondent- Adv. Seema Azad

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: While explaining the law on whether father is obligated to provide maintenance to his daughter irrespective of the fact that she has turned major, Joymalya Bagchi, J., refused to interfere with the decision of lower court.

Issue:

The father challenged the lower court’s decision for recovery of maintenance to the tune of Rs 22,000 for a period of 11 months on the ground that 2nd respondent, his daughter, had attained majority.

Court took note of the fact that the maintenance order passed in favour of 2nd respondent-daughter was not modified under Section 127 CrPC and she was unmarried and had no source of income.

It was argued that maintenance order would not survive as the daughter had attained the age of majority and this Court in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction ought to set aside the order directing realization of dues payable to 2nd respondent after her attaining majority.

Crux:

Whether Magistrate was justified to order recovery of maintenance due to 2nd respondent, who was unmarried and pursuing her education, and who had had attained majority.

Supreme Court in the decision of Abhilasha v. Parkash,2020 SCC OnLine SC 736, observed that though a Family Court is entitled to grant maintenance to a major in-married girl by combining the liabilities under Section 125 CrPC and Section 20(3) of the Act of 1956, a Magistrate exercising powers under Section 125 CrPC was not authorized to do so.

Bench stated that Magistrate is entitled to entertain an application under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and grant monetary relief to meet expenses incurred and losses suffered by an aggrieved person under Section 20 of the DV Act, in the event of domestic violence by way of economic abuse is established.

Conjoint reading of Section 2(a) and 2(f) of the DV Act would show that a daughter, who is or was living with her father in a domestic relationship by way of consanguinity, is entitled to seek reliefs including monetary relief on her own right as an aggrieved person under Section 2(a) of the DV Act irrespective of the fact whether she is a major or minor.

In the present matter, the relation between the parties as father and daughter was admitted and they both had stayed together in a shared household.

Hence, in Court’s opinion, the decision of the Magistrate directing recovery of maintenance was not illegal on the mere ground that she turned major.

Further, the Court clarified that in Abhilasha v. Parkash,2020 SCC OnLine SC 736, the power of the magistrate to grant monetary relief under the DV Act did not fall for consideration and further the Bench added citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Rajput Ruda Meha and v. State of Gujarat, that it is settled law that a judgment is not an authority for a proposition which was neither raised nor argued.

Therefore, Court concluded by denying to interfere with the impugned order. [Menti Trinadha Venkata Ramana v. Menti Lakshmi, 2021 SCC OnLine AP 2860, decided on 9-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: T.V. Sridevi

For the Respondent 3: Additional Public Prosecutor

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Noting the misery of parents aged 90 years, G.S. Kulkarni, J., observed that,

“Daughters are daughters forever and sons are sons till they are married” albeit there would surely be exemplary exceptions.

A Sad Case

In the present matter, petitioner 1 alongwith his wife petitioner 2 and their daughter petitioner 3 dragged his parents-respondents 1 and 2, aged 90 and 89 years in protracted legal proceedings.

As a last resort, the parents had to invoke the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 on which the Maintenance Tribunal granted relief to the parents.

Aggrieved with the decision of the Maintenance Tribunal the present petition was filed.

Misery of Parents 

At such an advanced stage of lives, parents had to reach the tribunal as petitioners 1 and 2 were forcibly trying to grab the flat in which the parents were residing and had permitted the petitioners to reside who were harassing and torturing the parents since many years.

Flat in Question

The flat initially belonged to the father and later gifted it to his two daughters by gift deed.

Metropolitan Magistrate had prohibited petitioner 1 and 2 from committing any act of domestic violence and had restrained them from dispossessing or in any manner disturbing the possession of the mother from the shared household.

The above order was passed on the complaint of the mother.

Analysis

High Court noted that the present case was a ‘classic case’ where the petitioners 1 and 2 intended to prevent the parents from leading a normal life at their old age of about 90 years.

Defeating Parents right to lead a normal life

It was stated that the property in question was not an ancestral property on which the petitioner 1 could claim any legal right so as to keep himself on such property alongwith his family and foist themselves on the parents against their wishes by remaining on the property without any legal rights.

Hence, Maintenance Tribunal had rightly recognized the rights of the parents on the property.

Concluding the matter, Court noted that the present case was a story of desperate parents who intend to be at peace at such advanced stage in life.  Whether such bare minimum expectations and requirement should also be deprived to them by an affluent son, is a thought which the petitioners need to ponder on.

Adding to the above, Bench stated that the son seemed to be blinded in discharging his obligations to cater to his old and needy parents and on the contrary dragged them to litigation.

It is painful to conceive that whatever are the relations between the son and the parents, should the son disown his old aged parents for material gains?

While directing the petitioners to vacate the flat in question alongwith his family members, the petition was rejected. [Ashish Vinod Dalal v. Vinod Ramanlal Dalal, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 2976, decided on 15-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

 Mr Yashpal Thakur with Mr Surendra Raja with Mr Mukund Pandya, for the Petitioner.

Mr Abhay Khandeparkar, Senior Advocate i/b. Mr Kunal Tiwari, for Respondent Nos.1 and 2.

Ms Vaishali Nimbalkar, AGP for the State.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of Dr Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ., modifies the maintenance amount being to a son.

Grant of maintenance

Issue in the present appeals pertained to the grant of maintenance to the first respondent who was the minor son of appellant and second respondent.

First respondent was residing with his mother, the second respondent. Family Court had directed the appellant to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs 20,000 per month to the first respondent, further, the High Court had declined to entertain the revision.

Special Leave Petition

On 29th July, 2020, while entertaining the Special Leave Petition this Court had passed an order directing the petitioner to pay Rs 10,000 per month to his son and had added that the amount that has already been paid over shall be adjusted against the amount which is due and payable. Petitioner was also asked to filed his salary slips as on 31st March, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and for the period between January 2020 to July 2020 and along with this, the petitioner shall also explain the deduction being made from his salary.

Salary Slips

Petitioner had filed his salary slips as per this Court’s order as stated above.

Principal Submission urged by the Counsel for appellant, Chinmay Deshpande was that the payment of an amount of Rs 20,000 by way of maintenance would leave the appellant with virtually no resources to meet the maintenance requirements of his family which presently consists of his spouse and two minor children.

Gaurav Agarwal, Counsel on behalf of the respondents had submitted that the appellant cannot be excused from the obligation to maintain the first respondent, his minor son.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Supreme Court decided that it was inclined to modify the order of Family Court which was affirmed by the High Court.

Bench stated that the deduction being suffered by the appellant from his salary were largely in the realm of statutory and compulsory deductions which were made from the monthly income.

“Deductions which were being suffered by the appellant from his salary were largely in the realm of statutory and compulsory deductions which were made from the monthly income.”

 Further, the appellant had shown his bona fides by paying an amount of Rs 6.64 lakhs and also made a disclosure of his salary slips. Payment of Rs 20,000 per month to the first respondent would leave no resources to maintain his other two children and family.

In view of the above, some scaling down was required. But an arrangement to provide maintenance to the first respondent until he completes his first-degree course after High School will be necessary so that the first respondent becomes self-supporting and can live in dignity.

Bench added that it is conscious of the fact that by this Order the Court is extending the period for maintenance, however in issuing the said direction, the Court has borne in mind two significant aspects:

firstly, the maintenance payable by the appellant has been reduced from rupees twenty thousand per month to rupees ten thousand per month;

and secondly the past arrears have been capped at the amount of Rs 6.64 lacs which has already been paid.

Therefore, in view of the facts and circumstances along with the needs of the minor child, Court opined that the appeals should be disposed of in terms of the following directions:

  • Amount of Rs 6.64 lakhs which has been paid by the appellant towards the arrears of maintenance of the first respondent shall be treated as a full and final payment as of 28 February 2021
  • Commencing from 1 March 2021 and for the period until 31 March 2022, the appellant shall pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 10,000 towards the expenses of the first respondent. The amount shall be paid no later than the tenth day of each succeeding month commencing from 10 March 2021. In the event that the second respondent nominates a bank account for that purpose, the appellant shall ensure a transfer of funds in the electronic mode to the nominated bank account. If this arrangement is not suitable, the money shall be paid over by Demand Draft on or before the tenth day of every succeeding month for the maintenance of the first respondent;
  • Amount of monthly maintenance shall stand increased by Rs 1000 per month commencing from 1 April 2022. For succeeding years, the amount of maintenance shall similarly stand increased by a further amount of Rs 1000 per month commencing from the first day of April; and
  • Appellant shall pay maintenance for the first respondent on the above basis for a period of six years commencing from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2027 or until the first respondent completes his first degree course, whichever is earlier. This direction is intended to ensure that the first respondent shall be maintained by the appellant until he completes his basic education ending with a first degree course after he completes his high school education.

In view of the above directions, appeal were disposed of. [Chandrashekar v. Swapnil, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 656, decided on 4-03-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Ashwani Kumar Singh snd Arvind Srivastava, JJ., reiterated that a victim has no right to maintain an appeal under the proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC on the ground of inadequate sentence.

Background

The instant appeal was filed by the appellant on being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the sentence passed by the Special Judge, POCSO Court-cum-Additional Sessions Judge-VI. Noticeably, on the basis information provided by the appellant an FIR was registered under Sections 363, 364, 366A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act). Later on, Sections 302, 376, 307 and 201 of the IPC and 4 of the POCSO Act were added to the FIR during investigation after the dead body of the missing daughter of the appellant was recovered.  The appellant, who was the father of the deceased girl, had filed the instant appeal challenging the order of sentence passed by the Trial Court seeking enhancement of sentence to death penalty.

Sentence Awarded by the Trial Court

Since the defence did not produce any evidence, the Trial Court heard the arguments advanced on behalf of the parties and, vide judgment dated 19-10-2020 convicted the respondent 2 for the offences punishable under Sections 363, 364, 366, 307, 376, 302, 201 of the IPC and 4(2) of the POCSO Act. Pursuant to which following sentence was awarded to the respondent 2:

“1. 363 IPC Rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years and a fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months.

  1. 364 IPC Rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years and a fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.
  2. 366 IPC Rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years and a fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.
  3. 307 IPC Rigorous imprisonment for a term of ten years and a fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.
  4. 302 IPC Imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs.10000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.
  5. 201 IPC Rigorous imprisonment for a term of seven years and a fine of Rs.2000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.
  6. 4(2) of the POCSO Act Imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of natural life of the accused and a fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to further undergo imprisonment for six months.”

Contentions Raised by the Appellant

After awarding the sentence for the proved charges under various provisions of the IPC and the POCSO Act in the manner indicated hereinabove, the Trial Court directed that all the sentences shall run concurrently and the period of detention already undergone by the convict shall be set off against the period of imprisonment.

The appellant submitted that his daughter, a minor girl, aged 8 years, was raped in car and when she started crying; she was strangulated to death by respondent 2. He contended that after ravishing a minor girl and killing her, respondent 2 dumped her body behind the residence of the District Magistrate, hence, the offence committed by respondent 2 was heinous and brutal.

The appellant argued that aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances as a calculated and diabolical cruelty had been inflicted on an innocent girl. Therefore, the Trial Court ought to have awarded death sentence to respondent 2 for the offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC as the punishment awarded to respondent 2 was not commensurate to the crime committed by him.

Findings of the Court

Considering the provisions prescribed under the CrPC for filing the appeal against the order of sentence and after perusing the materials on record, the Bench stated that the appeal was thoroughly misconceived. The Bench noticed Section 372 of CrPC which deals with ‘Appeals’ reads as under:- “No appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force”.

The Bench observed, by the Act 5 of 2009, a right to appeal had been conferred to the ‘victim’ by inserting a proviso to Section 372 of the CrPC with effect from 31-12-2009. The proviso so inserted reads as under:

“Provided that the victim shall have a right to prefer an appeal against any order passed by the Court acquitting the accused or convicting for a lesser offence or imposing inadequate compensation, and such appeal shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court.”

Hence, the Bench opined that a reading of the proviso would make it clear that so far as the victim’s right to appeal is concerned, the same can be invoked only under the following circumstances:

(a) Acquittal of the accused;

(b) Conviction of the accused for a lesser offence; or,

(c) In case of imposition of inadequate compensation.

Accordingly, holding that there is no provision under the CrPC for an appeal by the ‘victim’ against the order of an inadequate sentence, the Bench clarified the only provision for appeal against inadequate sentence is Section 377 which provides for filing appeal by the State Government for enhancement of sentence. Hence, the appeal was dismissed.  [Sanjay Kumar v. State of Bihar, CRIMINAL APPEAL (DB) No.401 of 2021, decided on 23-08-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance:

For the Appellant: Mr Rabindra Nath Tiwari, Advocate

For the Respondent-State: Mr Dilip Kumar Sinha, APP

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Ujjal Bhuyan and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., while explaining the provisions under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 also elaborated upon the concept of shared household and remanded the matter back to the Tribunal for Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens.

In the present matter, the legality and validity of the order passed by the Deputy District Collector, acting as the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal for Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens as challenged.

Respondent 1 was the mother-in-law of the petitioner. Petitioner alongwith her husband and minor daughter used to reside in a Flat along with respondent 1.

The above referred flat originally belonged to Anandlal Jasani who during his lifetime made nomination in respect of the said flat whereby 20% share of the flat was granted in favour of petitioner’s husband.

Since her marriage, the petitioner was living in the above-stated flat along with respondent 1 and the father-in-law till his death.

Petitioner claimed that the said flat is her matrimonial home as well as her shared household. Petitioner, her husband, daughter, and respondent 1 were residing in the said flat.

Further, the petitioner submitted that her husband was suffering from mental illness and depression because of which he required regular treatment and counselling and could not contribute to the earnings of the family.

Petitioners Allegation

Petitioner alleged that respondent 1 wanted to sell the stated flat and thereafter retain the sale consideration to herself to enable her to lead an affluent lifestyle. Petitioner and her husband were opposed to selling the flat.

Adding to the above, petitioner submitted that the said flat was not self-acquired property of respondent 1, rather it was an ancestral property of the family of the petitioner’s husband wherein petitioner’s husband, petitioner and their minor daughter had equal rights, title and interest.

Further, it was added that respondent 1 had the motive of ousting the petitioner, her husband and minor daughter from the flat and that was the reason why she filed a complaint before the Tribunal for Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens for eviction of the petitioner and her husband from the flat to allow her to reside in the flat all by herself.

This Court had issued an order dated 15-04-2021 stating that no coercive steps should be taken against the petitioner.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench noted that Tribunal held that the flat was an ancestral property and that both respondent 1 and petitioner along with her husband had joint rights. In so far sale of the flat was concerned, it was beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

In Tribunal’s opinion, as per Sections 4(2) and (3) of the 2007 Act, it was the obligation of the children or the relatives to maintain a senior citizen to the extent of the needs of such senior citizen.

Based on Sections 4,5,9, 13 and 23 of the 2007 Act, Tribunal decided and directed the petitioner and her husband to vacate the flat and to hand over the possession to respondent 1.

Whether the flat in question is a shared household and that petitioner has a right to reside in the shared household?

Supreme Court in S. Vanitha v. Deputy Commissioner, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1023 concluded that claim of the appellant that the premises constitute a shared household within the meaning of the 2005 Act would have to be determined by the appropriate forum. The claim cannot be simply obviated by evicting the appellant in the exercise of the summary powers entrusted by the 2007 Act.

Question for consideration:

Whether the Tribunal under the 2007 Act can order eviction of a person from tenement in which he has ownership right to the extent of 20%?

Whether having regard to the mandate of Section 4 of the 2007 Act read with other provisions of the said 2007 Act, Tribunal can direct or order eviction of children or relative at the first instance itself or at a later stage to enforce an order of maintenance passed at the first instance?

Supreme Court in S. Vanitha v. Deputy Commissioner, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1023 took the view that Tribunal under the 2007 Act may have the authority to order an eviction if it is necessary and expedient to ensure maintenance and protection of the senior citizen or parent.

Single Judge in Dattatrey Shivaji Mane v. Lilabai Shivaji Mane, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2246  took the view that the Tribunal can order eviction under the 2007 Act, as noticed above, such order was in the context of the tenement being the exclusive property of the parent/senior citizen which was not so in the present case.

Therefore, Court held that without expressing any opinion at this stage on the questions formulated by this Court above, it is essential for the Tribunal to first conclude, though summarily, as to whether the flat in question was an ancestral property or exclusively owned by respondent 1.

Further, the Court expressed that in terms of Section 9 of the 2007 Act, Tribunal must be satisfied that the parent has suffered neglect at the hands of the children or relatives or that they have refused to maintain the parent.

Under Section 5(3) of the 2007 Act, the Tribunal is mandated upon receipt of an application for maintenance to provide an opportunity of hearing to both the parties and to hold an enquiry for determining amount of maintenance.

Further, the procedure contemplated under the 2007 Act is summary in nature nonetheless Tribunal is required to find out as to whether the flat in question belongs exclusively to respondent 1 or it is an ancestral property where petitioner has also a right to ownership and/or residence through her husband.

Tribunal is also required to deal with the contention of petitioner that the flat in question is her shared household wherefrom she cannot be evicted.

As the Supreme Court had pointed out in S. Vanitha v. Deputy Commissioner2020 SCC OnLine SC 1023, both parents / senior citizens and the daughter-in-law are vulnerable groups in the Indian context and for protection of their rights the 2005 Act and the 2007 Act have been enacted.

In the above backdrop, the claims of the contesting parties would have to be decided which unfortunately does not appear to be the case in the instant proceeding. 

Hence, the High Court set aside the Tribunal’s order and remand the matter back to the Tribunal for fresh decision.[Ritika Prashant Jasani v. Anjana Niranjan Jasani, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 1802, decided on 13-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Kishor Maru for Petitioner. Mr. Anoshak Daver a/w. Ms. Kausar Banatwala, Ms. Neuty Thakkar and Ms. Tanishka Desai i/b. Mr. Tushar Goradia for Respondent No.1.
Ms. Anjana N. Jasani, Respondent in person.
Ms. Ritika Jasani, Petitioner in person.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Manish Pitale, J., while upholding the decision of Sessions Court discussed more on the concept of ‘continuing offence’ under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Background

Petitioner had filed an application under the provisions of The Protection of Women of Domestic Violence Act, 2005 for various reliefs. The said application was partly allowed by the Judicial Magistrate directing Omprakash (husband) to pay an amount of maintenance and rent to his wife, whereas the return of Stridhan and household articles was rejected.

With the above decision, both the wife and husband were aggrieved and hence filed appeals before the Sessions Court. Sessions Court had partly allowed the appeal of the wife by enhancing the monthly maintenance and additionally the husband was directed to pay an amount of Rs 50,000 to his wife towards compensation.

Appeal filed by the husband was dismissed.

Aggrieved by the judgment, present petitions were filed in which the Court issued notices.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Limitation

In the instant matter, Court stated that it is concerned with the complaint filed by the wife under Section 12 and other provisions of the D.V. Act.

The wife claimed that she was harassed and abused and that she also suffered economic abuse at the hands of the husband and his relatives. Further, she added that she was subjected to “domestic violence” as defined under Section 3 of the D.V. Act, hence sought redressal for such abuse and claimed return of articles gifted to her by her parents and other relatives.

“…concept of continuing cause of action and continuing offence needs to be appreciated from the point of view of the aggrieved person i.e. wife.”

 In the case of Krishna Bhattacharjee v. Sarathi Choudhury, (2016) 2 SCC 705, Supreme Court held that the concept of continuing offence gets attracted from the date of deprivation of Stridhan and that therefore, an application in that context would have to be entertained and it cannot be thrown out on the ground of limitation

Continuing Offences

Court opined that, the definition of ‘domestic violence’ under Section 3 of the D.V. Act shows that depriving an aggrieved person of not only Stridhan but also shared household, maintenance, alienation from assets, banks lockers etc., prevention from entering place of employment of the aggrieved person, would all be covered, under the concept of continuing offences.

Hence, merely because the wife filed a complaint after one year, the said complaint cannot be barred by limitation.

Enhancement of Maintenance

High Court held that considering the salary of the husband, he directed to pay an amount of Rs 6,000 and the same cannot be said to be unreasonable.

Physical Abuse 

Husband contended that since the wife did not place on record any material to show any physical abuse or proof of having filed any police complaint, she did not deserve to be paid any compensation.

To the above, Court reasoned that in cases of domestic violence, it is often found that the aggrieved person does not immediately rush to the police when inflicted with physical, mental, and physiological and economic abuse.

Adding to the above, Bench stated that even if such persons suffer injuries, they will not necessarily keep medical records of the same and it cannot be said that only because no medical documents were produced, the wife in the present matter was not entitled to compensation.

In view of the above discussions, the Session Court’s decision was upheld. [Aruna v. Omprakash, Criminal Writ Petition No. 372 of 2019, decided on 27-7-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Shri. C. A. Joshi, Advocate for Petitioner

Shri. A. S. Joshi, Advocate for Respondent.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., while allowing in part the revision petition filed challenging the Family Court’s maintenance order made a very crucial observation, that father’s obligation to maintain a child cannot come to an end once the child turns 18 years of age. Read more to know why.

Instant petition was directed against the Family Court’s Order declining maintenance to the petitioner 1/wife and granting maintenance only to petitioner 2 and 3.

Since the interim maintenance order was an interlocutory order, the respondent’s counsel submitted that the present application was barred under Section 397(2) CrPC.

Further, the counsel for the petitioners contended that after holding that each of the children is entitled to 25% of the amount of the income of the respondent, the learned Family Court ought not to have further apportioned the amount and limited the liability of the respondent only to 12.5% of the amount of the salary earned by the respondent.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court stated that since the purpose of granting interim maintenance is to ensure that the wife and the children are not put to starvation, Courts while fixing interim maintenance are not expected to dwell into minute and excruciating details and fact which are to be proved by the parties.

Further, Bench elaborated with regard to other contention of children being entitled to 25% of salary earned by respondent, that, petitioner 1/wife who was earning and was equally responsible for the child can take care of the balance as respondent was married again and had a child from the second marriage.

Court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that the respondent has equal responsibility towards the child from the second marriage.

Petitioner 1/Wife was working as an Upper Division Clerk in Delhi Municipal Corporation earning Rs 60,000 per month and the two children were living with the mother and after the age of majority, entire expenditure of petitioner 2 was being borne by petitioner 1 as petitioner 2 turned major and was still studying but was not earning anything.

Therefore, the family court failed to appreciate that since the respondent was making no contribution towards the maintenance of petitioner 2, the salary earned by petitioner 1 was not sufficient to maintain herself.

Court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that at the age of 18 the education of petitioner 2 is not yet over and the petitioner 2 cannot sustain himself.

Bench held that it cannot be said that the obligation of the father would come to an end as the son reached 18 years of age and the entire burden of his education and other expenses would fall only on the mother.

Adding to the above analysis, it was stated that It is not reasonable to expect that the mother alone would bear the entire burden for herself and for the son with the small amount of maintenance given by the respondent herein towards the maintenance of his daughter.

Hence, Court granted a sum of Rs 15,000 per month as interim maintenance to petitioner 1 from the date of petitioner 2 attaining the age of majority till he completes his graduation or starts earning whichever is earlier.

In view of the above, the revision petition was allowed in part and disposed of. [Urvashi Aggarwal v. Inderpaul Aggarwal, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 3242, decided on 14-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioners: Mr Praveen Suri and Ms. Komal Chibber, Advocates

For the Respondent: Mr Digvijay Rai and Mr. Aman Yadav, Advocates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of T. Raja and G. Chandrasekharan, JJ., while upholding the decision of Court below stated that for 12 long years the wife did not appear for any proceedings to disprove the allegations of husband and crucial allegations such as assaulting husband on his vital part of the body are included which were never denied by the wife, then how can the parties be made to live together.

Present appeal was directed against the decision of the Family Court dissolving the marriage between the parties.

Counsel for the appellant/wife argued that the trial court without taking into account the contents of various exhibits and contents of cross-examination of the respondent/husband gave a finding of guilt of cruelty meted out to respondent/husband that could not be sustained as the same was a result of erroneous appreciation of entire materials available before the Court below.

It was also submitted that the husband had fabricated certain documents to evade the payment of maintenance. Due to which the wife had to file a number of proceedings for which the appellant could not be demoralized giving a stamp of inflicting cruelty upon her husband.

Issues that arose in the present matter were as follows:

  • Whether the failure on the part of the appellant/wife to participate in the divorce proceedings before the Court below would amount to accepting the allegations made by the respondent/husband as true?
  • When the respondent/husband has filed the petition for divorce under Section 13(1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, on the refusal of the appellant/wife either to appear in the witness box to state her own case on oath or not offering herself to be cross examined by the other side, whether the Court below is legally justified in drawing an adverse presumption that the case set up by the appellant/wife is not correct, under Section 114-Illus.(g) of the Evidence Act?

High Court’s Analysis and Finding

Bench stated that since the wife had raised counter-allegations, it was her duty and obligation to appear before the Court below and substantiate the same by disproving the allegations made by the respondent/husband by seriously participating in the enquiry.

It was rightly submitted by the counsel for the husband that when the divorce petition was pending from 2007 till 2019, for almost a period of 12 long years appellant/wife had chosen to filed 13 interlocutory applications but it is not known why she did not choose to appear before the Court below to take part in the enquiry.

Secondly, when the wife filed a case against the respondent under Sections 498(A), 406, 323, 504 & 506 of IPC, for which a trial of 9 long years was held, after which the husband and his parents were acquitted, it is unknown why the appellant devoted time to project a false case but did not appear for the enquiry before the Court below to disprove the allegations made by the husband.

Thirdly, she had also filed a case of domestic violence and for maintenance.

High Court stated that when she had boycotted the proceedings before the Court below, where she had the advantage of examining and cross-examining the respondent, she could not have come to this Court.

Bench referred to Order VIII Rule 5(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, as per which every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication, the same shall be taken to be admitted as against the person who failed to deny the same.

Conjoint reading of Order XVI, Rule 20, Order XV, Rule 4, Order XVI, Rule 20 and Order XXII, Rule 4 of CPC shows that where any party to a suit pending in Court refuses to give evidence or to produce any document then and there in his/her possession or avoid the Court willfully, the Court can pronounce judgment or make such order against that party on the ground that he or she failed to prove the case.

High Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Mohinder Kaur v. Sant Paul Singh, (2019) 9 SCC 358, wherein it was held that a party to the suit who does not appear in the witness box to state his own case on oath and does not offer himself to be cross examined by the other side, would suffer a presumption, because the case set up by hi would not be genuine, natural or honest and real one.

12 Long Years and No Appearance

Further, in the present matter, Court’s opinion was that when the appellant/wife deliberately and willfully boycotted the proceedings before the Court below for 12 long years due to not having any evidence, she cannot approach this Court with this appeal since the same will not be maintainable.

A very crucial allegation made by the husband was that the wife had assaulted him on his vital part of the body and the same was not even denied by the wife in the counter affidavit.

In view of the above-said allegation and no denying of the same by the wife, it is clear that the wife not only caused mental cruelty but also physical cruelty upon the husband.

“…when the parties are all fighting for more than 14 long years, they cannot be made to live together.”

Unclean Hands

Family Court of Mumbai found that the appellant came to the Court with unclean hands since in the proceeding regarding maintenance she did not show that she was working and having a source of income.

The above order became final, this Court found no justification in this appeal.

High Court found no infirmity or error in the decision of the Family Court and hence upheld the same. [Narayanee v. S. Karthik,  2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2080, decided on 24-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant: Dr K Santhakumari

For Respondent: J. Saravanavel

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., while addressing a revision petition in regard to maintenance of wife, held that

Magazine covers are not sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the respondent /wife can sustain herself.

Instant revision petition is against the Family Court’s decision directing the husband to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs 17,000 per month to the wife.

The daughter of husband and wife in the present matter passed away in the year 2010 and at present, they have two major adult sons who are well settled.

Parties have been living separately since the year 2012. Wife filed the petition under Section 125 CrPC for grant of maintenance stating that she was treated with cruelty and was thrown out of the house in the year 2012 and she was unable to sustain herself, hence required maintenance from the husband.

It was stated that the husband was earning an income of Rs 50,000 from the post of Head Constable and also had some agricultural land from which he was earning an income.

Wife claimed Rs 25,000 per month as maintenance.

Husband submitted that the wife was a working lady earning handsomely. Adding to this he stated that she participates in Jagrans and does TV Serials and was in a position to take care of herself. Both the parties filed their respective affidavits of income.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that as per the Statement filed by the wife under Section 165 of the Evidence Act, she herself stated that she was doing modelling and it was for her to establish that income earned by her was so less that she couldn’t maintain herself.

Petitioners counsel also presented certain magazine covers and newspaper articles to establish that the respondent was employed and capable of maintaining herself.

Bench stated that law laid down by Supreme Court decision in Rajnesh v. Neha, (2021) 2 SCC 324, indicates that proceedings under Section 125 CrPC have been enacted to remedy/reduce the financial suffering of a lady, who was forced to leave her matrimonial house, so that some arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself.

It is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife and to provide financial support to her and their children. A husband cannot avoid his obligation to maintain his wife and children except if any legally permissibly ground is contained in the statutes. 

Court noted that in the present matter, petitioner relied only on the statement given by the respondent/wife under Section 165 Indian Evidence Act. In the said statement she clearly mentioned her employment adding that her income was very low on which her sustenance was difficult.

In view of the above position, the onus to show how much the respondent/wife was earning shifts on the petitioner to show that it was enough for her sustenance. But petitioner failed to bring any evidence.

Court reiterated the Supreme Court’s position that newspaper clippings, etc. are not evidence.

 It was noted that the petitioner was working as an ASI and both the children were well settled, and he was not under any obligation to maintain his children but the wife.

On asking about divorce, it was stated that the petitioner’s children did not want him to take divorce from his wife, hence it becomes the moral and legal obligation of the husband to maintain his wife.

Bench while dismissing the revision petition held that no material was placed on record to show that respondent/wife was able to sustain herself. [Jaiveer Singh v. Sunita Chaudhary, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1488, decided on 05-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Neerad Pandey, Advocate

For the Respondent: D.K. Sharma, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., dealt with the provisions in regard to the concept of the shared household while referring to a very pertinent decision of the Supreme Court.

In the instant case, the petitioner is stated to be the daughter-in-law and respondents her parents-in-law.

It has been added that multiple proceedings have been pending between the husband and wife but the focus and purpose due to which the parties were present before the Court was the Agreement to Sell entered between respondent 1 mother-in-law with third-party qua property which was purportedly in her name.

Shared Household Property

As per the petitioner, the property in question was a shared household property where she had lived with her husband due to which the said property could not be alienated from the said property.

Petitioner with regard to the above, filed an application under Section 19(1)(d) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) and Magistrate after issuance of notice, vide an order granted interim relief to petitioner restraining respondents from selling or alienating the property in question.

Revision Petition was preferred against the interim order before the Sessions Court under Sections 395/397 CrPC which was converted into an appeal and vide judgment dated 03-05-2021, the said appeal was allowed.

Petitioner sought aside the judgment passed by the Appellate Court.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench perused the impugned judgment, provisions of DV Act as well as Supreme Court’s decision in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414.

What was the crux of the matter?

Petitioner filed an application to restrain the parent-in-law from selling or alienating the subject property. Since Agreement to Sell had to be executed with a limited time frame, aggrieved parents-in-law filed an appeal against the restraint order, which was allowed by the Appellate Court after giving due opportunity of being heard.

Appellate Court referred to Section 2(s) of the Statute, which defined shared household and relied upon the Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414 where the rights of an aggrieved woman as provided under Sections 17 & 19 of the Statute, came to be revisited by the Supreme Court.

Appellate Court had observed that daughter-in-law was not residing at the house in question on the day of presentation of the complaint nor any time soon before. It was added to the observation that she was occupying a staff quarter allotted to her husband and lived in the house in question only for a short duration and occasionally visited parents-in-law, to say only thrice.

What did the appellate court held?

“…that these short durational visits or stay of daughter-in-law at the house of the parents-in- law would not get the house a colour of being a shared house hold.”

Bench in the instant case agreed with the ratio laid down by the Supreme Court decision in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414, however, the facts were different in the present case in comparison to the Supreme Court decision.

High Court added that the fact remained that petitioner never resided with parents-in-laws and always stayed at the place of posting of her husband and visited them occasionally.

Bench added that the intent and purpose of DV Act was to safeguard the interest of distressed women.

Though it is stated that the provisions of Section 17 of the DV Act stipulate that every woman in a domestic relationship shall have a right to reside in the shared household whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same, but in the present case, petitioner had in fact neither permanently nor for a longer period resided in the house of parents-in-law and so, it could not be termed as ‘shared household’. Hence, there was no question of evicting or dispossessing her from there.

Pertinent Question in the present case

Whether the old aged parents-in-law, who at the fag-end of their life, wish to sell off their property to relocate themselves in a better place of their choice, be restrained to sell of the house or permitted to do it?

Supreme Court’s observation in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414 was referred to, wherein it was stated:

90. Before we close our discussion on Section 2(s), we need to observe that the right to residence under Section 19 is not an indefeasible right of residence in shared household especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against aged father-in-law and mother-in-law. The senior citizens in the evening of their life are also entitled to live peacefully not haunted by marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law. While granting relief both in application under Section 12 of the 2005 Act or in any civil proceedings, the Court has to balance the rights of both the parties. The directions issued by the High Court [Ambika Jain v. Ram Prakash Sharma, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 11886] in para 56 adequately balance the rights of both the parties.”

Hence, in light of the above observations, Court found that the impugned judgment did not suffer from illegality or infirmity.

Therefore, the present application was accordingly dismissed while making it clear that the observations made by this Court are in the peculiar facts of the present case and shall not be treated as a precedent in any other case. [Vibhuti Wadhwa Sharma v. Krishna Sharma,2021 SCC OnLine Del 2104, decided on 17-05-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner: Jatan Singh, Saurav Joon & Tushar Lamba, Advocates

For the respondents: Roopenshu Pratap Singh, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Rajnesh Oswal, J., heard the instant petition against the order of the Trial Court whereby the petitioner had been directed to pay maintenance to the allegedly divorcee lady. The Bench stated that,

“The petitioner had not led any evidence as to who sent the divorce to the respondent (wife) to prove the plea of Talak. Otherwise also a meager amount of Rs.2000 as has been awarded to the respondent 1 herein, that in the present era of inflation can in no way be termed as either exorbitant or excessive.”

The petitioner contended that he had already divorced his wife vide “Talaq Nama‟ dated 02-08-2011 which was sent to her through registered post. The facts of the case were such that the  wife of the petitioner had filed a petition for interim maintenance before the Trial Court, wherein the petitioner had claimed that he had already divorced her and as such, he was not under any obligation to maintain the divorced lady. The Trial Court, after relying on the verdict of Supreme Court in Shameem Ara v. State of U.P., AIR 2002 S.C. 355,  and considering the evidence on record granted maintenance of Rs.2000 (Rupees Two thousand) per month to the wife.

Referring to the observations of the Trial Court and Sessions Court, the Bench stated that the Magistrate had held that the petitioner had miserably failed to prove the requisites of Talaq and also that Talaknama was sent to the respondent. The petitioner had not been able to prove as to on which date the divorce was pronounced upon the respondent(wife). The delivery of the envelope was also doubtful as the postman had not seen any such record in which he had obtained signatures of the respondent. Moreover, none of the witnesses produced by the petitioner had stated whether any-one tried to reconcile the parties before the divorce. Needless to mention here that if the plea of Talak is taken then the same is required to be proved like any other fact.

The Bench stated that there was not even an iota of evidence that any reconciliation efforts were made by two arbiters one chosen by the wife from her family and the other by the husband from his family. So there was no perversity in the finding returned by the Magistrate and upheld by the Court of revision that the petitioner had not been able to prove the plea of Talak taken in his objections. Furthermore, the petitioner had not led any evidence as to who sent the divorce to the respondent (wife) to prove the plea of Talak. Otherwise also a meager amount of Rs.2000/- (Rupees Two thousand) as has been awarded to the respondent no.1 herein, that in the present era of inflation can in no way be termed as either exorbitant or excessive.

In view of the above, the Court denied to interfere with the orders impugned and the petition was dismissed for being devoid of merit.

[Abdul Majeed Dar V. Hafiza Begum 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 294, Decided On 26-03-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner/Applicant(s): Adv. Parvaiz Nazir

For the Respondent(s): Adv. Shabir Ahmad

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Shampa Sarkar, J., expressed that Hindu Marriage Act is a gender-neutral provision and further expressed the scope of maintenance.

In the present revisional application, the issue was with respect to the wife being aggrieved with the quantum of maintenance.

Wife had filed an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act and maintenance pendente lite @Rs 30,000 per month and Rs 75,000 as litigation cost was prayed.

Wife was aggrieved that the lower court allowed 1/5th of the husband’s income as maintenance pendente lite and considering the husband’s income as Rs 60,000, Court proceeded to grant an amount of Rs 12,000 as maintenance.

Hindu Marriage Act provides for the rights, liabilities and obligations arising from a marriage between two Hindus.

Sections 24 and 25 make provisions for providing maintenance to a party who has no independent income sufficient for his or her support and necessary expenses. This is a gender-neutral provision, where either the wife or the husband may claim maintenance. The pre-requisite is that the applicant did not have independent income which is sufficient for his or her support during the pendency of the lis.

Justice Krishna Iyer’s decision of Supreme Court in Captain Ramesh Chander Kaushal v. Veena Kaushal, (1978) 4 SCC 70 was referred to regarding the object of maintenance laws.

Supreme Court’s decision in Rajnesh v. Neha, (2021) 2 SCC 324 discussed the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance and the relevant factors to be taken into consideration in order to quantify the amount. The object behind granting maintenance is to ensure that the dependent spouse was not reduced to destitution or vagrancy on account of failure of the marriage and not as a punishment to the other spouse.

In the instant case, wife’s potential to earn may exist as she had a post-graduate degree but as per the evidence, it appeared that she had been out of employment Since May, 2014. Records revealed that the husband had been appointed at a salary of Rs 23,000. It was expected that in the intervening period, husband’s income must have gone up by at least 3 times.

Supreme Court noted that some guesswork could not be ruled out estimating the income when the sources or correct sources are not disclosed. Hence, Trial Court rounded the figure at Rs 60,000 as the expected income of the husband at present.

Bench considered it prudent to award Rs 20,000 to the wife as maintenance pendente lite.

Bench dismissed Mr Chatterjee’s contention that wife should be directed to disclose her present income and file the affidavit of assets.

Further, the Court stated that in the absence of any evidence on the part of the husband, this Court is of the opinion that taking into consideration the criteria as laid down by several judicial precedents on the subject from time to time, Rs 20,000/- as maintenance pendete lite per month is just and proper.

High Court modified the impugned order to the above extent. It was directed that the current maintenance shall be paid with effect from April, 2021 within 20th of the month.  Thereafter on and from May 2021 the maintenance shall be paid within 15th of every month as directed by lower court.[Upanita Das v. Arunava Das, C.O. No. 4386 of 2019, decided on 09-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Mr Srijib Chakraborty and Ms Sudeshna Basu Thakur

For the Opposite Party: Mr Aniruddha Chatterjee and Mr Sachit Talukdar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., while addressing a matrimonial matter, highlighted the scope of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,

PWDV Act provides for a complete mechanism for enforcement of the rights claimed under Section 12 of PWDV Act and merely because the rights as provided under Sections 18 to 22 of PWDV Act can be claimed in other legal proceedings also does not imply ouster of jurisdiction of the Magistrate to try the matter once divorce proceedings have been filed.

Due to the petitioner and respondent’s marriage running into rough weather, respondent had to leave the matrimonial home. After which the respondent filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDV Act) against the petitioner and his parents.

In 2014, petitioner filed a divorce petition against the respondent.

By the present petition, petitioner sought transfer of complaint filed by the respondent under Section 12 of the PWDV Act and the execution petitions filed to the Principal Judge, Family Courts, South-East District, Saket Courts.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Present petition hinges on the interpretation of Section 26 of the PWDV Act.

In P. Rajendran v. Sasikala, Criminal Original Petition No. 29522 of 2013, decided on 14-09-2017, Madras High Court followed the decision on Capt. C.V.S Ravi v.  Ratna Sailaja, Crl. O.P. No.17122 of 2008, reiterated that merely because Family Court can grant reliefs under Sections 18 to 22 of the PWDV Act, it does not lead to the conclusion that an application filed by an aggrieved person under Section1 2 of the PWDV Act was required to be transferred to the Family Court.

Bench noted that Section 26 of the PWDV Act reveals that it permits availing of the reliefs provided under Sections 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the PWDV Act in any other legal proceedings before a civil or criminal court and in case such a relief is granted than information to this extent was required to be given to Magistrate dealing with the application under the PWDV Act.

Section 26 of PWDV Act does not contemplate ouster of jurisdiction of the Magistrate even in a case some relief as contemplated under Sections 18 to 22 of the PWDV Act is granted by the civil or criminal court in some other legal proceedings.

High Court expressed that:

“…even if a proceeding is pending before the Family Court, the same will not warrant the application under Section 12 of PWDV Act to be transferred to the Family Court.”

 Court found that the petitioner had been delaying the proceedings in the application under Section 12 of the PWDV Act and was not complying with the Magistrate’s order, while avoiding making payment of maintenance to the respondent.

Hence, it was directed to conclude proceedings under Section 12 of PWDV Act as expeditiously as possible.

No reason was found to transfer the proceedings before the Metropolitan Magistrate to Family Court, therefore, petition was dismissed. [Sandeep Aggarwal v. Viniti Aggarwal, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1524, decided on 07-04-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Aditya Goel, Advocate

For the Respondent: Lalit Gupta, Sidharth Arora, Advocates with the respondent in person.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Ajit Singh, JJ., while setting aside a decree of divorce addressed the issue of granting maintenance to a widowed wife.

Present application was filed for modification of Court’s earlier order whereby the appellant wife’s appeal against the divorce decree granted to the husband was dismissed as withdrawn.

Factual Matrix

An appeal that was filed in the year 2009 challenged the decree of divorce passed in favour of the respondent-husband. The said appeal was pending for a period of 9 years.

The appeal came up before the Court on 12-04-2018, Court inquired from the appellant and counsel for the respondent-husband as to whether there was any chance of settlement between the parties, to which both parties agreed to live together.

Pursuant to that, both parties resumed cohabitation. The appellant wife requested for withdrawing her appeal as no dispute survived since both parties were now happily living together.

The High Court allowed the withdrawal of appeal, however, without interfering in the decree of divorce already granted in favour of the husband.

Subsequently, the respondent-husband passed away. The appellant wife now claimed maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act as his widowed wife. Consequently, she sought the modification of the Court’s earlier order dismissing her appeal as withdrawn without interfering in the decree of divorce passed by the trial court.

Analysis and Decision

In the present scenarios, except the son and the appellant, there was no one else to claim as the heir of the deceased respondent and hence the only legal heir entitled to inherit the estate of the deceased is the appellant and her son.

During the time period of 20 years of litigation, the wife never sought maintenance but now claimed the same under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

Bench cited the Supreme Court decision in Rohtas Singh v. Sant Ramendri, (2000) 3 SCC 180 and Swapan Kumar Banerjee v. State of West Bengal, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1263, with respect to the status of the divorced wife.

High Court held that in view of the above-stated cases, the appellant would be entitled to the maintenance as per the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 as she was dependent on the deceased.

The Bench held that it cannot be said that the appellant was a divorced wife. Being a Hindu wife, the appellant has condoned all the misdeeds of the respondent and if her husband did not cohabit with her and has thereafter, started co-habiting with her, in that view of the matter, the decree of divorce both on merits and on cohabiting and condonation of misdeeds, if any, both by the husband and the wife, the decree is liable to be set aside.

The husband after 30.07.2018 had never came up before the Court to complain that she had again deserted him or what is the status of the matrimonial relations between them, which means he had also condoned misdeed of the appellant (wife), if any.
According to the Court, a case for setting aside the impugned decree of divorce was made out.

Hence the divorce decree was set aside. The earlier order of the High Court which was sought to be modified was also set aside.[Jyotsna Verma v. Ashok Kumar, First Appeal No. 432 of 2009, decided on 10-03-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for Appellant:- In-Person, Ms. Jyotsna Verma (In Person)

Counsel for Respondent:- B. D. Mishra, Syed Fahim Ahmed

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., partly allowed a revision petition filed by the husband and reduced the amount of interim maintenance granted to the respondent-wife and son from Rs 12,500 per month to Rs 4,500 per month. While so deciding, the Court held that:

It is trite law that it is for the wife to establish that the petitioner [husband] was earning some amount from the business of his father and that even after the death of the petitioner’s father the business was continued by the family members. Some material ought to have been produced by the respondent to substantiate the contention that the petitioner was also running some business in the name of Rakesh & Company.

The husband filed the instant petition against the order of the Family Court, Saket, whereby he was directed to pay the maintenance at Rs 12,500 per month to the applicant wife and their son (Rs 7,500 for the wife and Rs 5,000 for the son).

Backdrop

The petitioner and respondent 1 got married in 2012. A son was born to them. However, disputes arose, and the husband filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights against the wife under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. On the other hand, the wife filed an application under Section 125 CrPC for grant of maintenance. An application for interim maintenance was also pressed. The wife alleged that the husband was earning Rs 35,000 per month. This included salary of Rs 20,000 drawn by working in a shop and another Rs 15,000 earned from his father’s business. An amount of Rs 18,000 (Rs 10,000 for the wife and Rs 8,000 for the son) was claimed as maintenance.

The husband disputed his income as alleged by the wife. The Family Court, however, estimated the husband’s income at Rs 30,000 per month and fixed the maintenance at Rs 12,500 per month.

On the husband’s inability to pay the amount as awarded by the Family Court, he was taken into judicial custody.

Contentions

The petitioner contended that the judgment of the Family Court was based on conjectures and surmises. He filed an affidavit and stated that his father was running a business of Sesame Oil, but it was closed after the father’s death. The petitioner husband also filed an affidavit of the Manager of the shop where the petitioner was working. The Manager deposed that the petitioner was drawing a salary of Rs 9,000 per month.

On the other hand, the respondent-wife contended that the husband was concealing his actual income.

Law, Analysis and Decision

Perusing the record, the High Court was of the opinion that the entire judgment of the Family Court was based on guesswork. There was no material, whatsoever, for the Family Court to conclude that the husband was earning Rs 30,000 per month. No reason was forthcoming as to why the appointment letter given by the employer of the husband was disbelieved/discarded by the Family Court.

It was held that it is trite law that it is for the wife to establish that the petitioner was earning some amount from the business of his father and that even after the death of the petitioner’s father the business was continued by the family members. Some material ought to have been produced by the respondent to substantiate the contention that the petitioner was also running some business in the name of Rakesh & Company. The Court was of the view that:

“In the absence of any material on record, the judgment of the Family Court fixing the salary of the petitioner at Rs 30,000 per month and awarding Rs 12,500 for the wife and children cannot be sustained.”

Further, the High Court found that it cannot ignore the fact that the husband was in jail because of his inability to pay maintenance to his wife:

Had the petitioner been capable of paying the maintenance, the petitioner would have made the payment rather than going to jail.

In view of the above and in view of the absence of any material to the contrary and the only material being the affidavit filed by the husband that he is earning Rs 9,000 per month, the High Court reduced the amount of maintenance as granted by the Family Court and directed the husband to pay a sum of Rs 4,500 as interim maintenance to the wife and their son from the date of filing of the petition, i.e. 1-3-2016. He was further directed to clear the arrears of maintenance within two months.

It was made clear that all the observations made in the instant order are only restricted for the purpose of calculating the interim maintenance; and the amount of maintenance to be paid under Section 125 CrPC would be arrived at by the Family Court after taking into account the entire evidence adduced by the parties before it. [Amit Kumar Sindhi v. Monika, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1324, decided on. 23-3-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J., held that:

The senior citizen can approach the Deputy Commissioner/DM for eviction from any property over which he/she enjoys rights and such order will be appealable to the Divisional Commissioner.

Petitioner who is the wife of respondent 4 and daughter-in-law of respondent 3 filed the present petition against the order of the District Magistrate.

Petitioner was evicted from the suit in the said order and said order was passed by the District Magistrate while exercising powers under Rule 22(3)(1) of the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2009.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that the writ petition was ought to be entertained as an appeal under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 which can only be filed by a senior citizen.

Further, it was added that there appears to be some confusion as to which orders are appealable, to which forum and by whom. It is necessary to set out the provisions which are applicable separately qua maintenance and eviction proceedings.

Maintenance Proceedings 

The maintenance proceedings for the welfare of parents and senior citizens are concerned under Section 2(j), the said Act provides that the ‘Tribunal’ would be the forum for exercising the first jurisdiction.

‘Tribunal’ is defined under Section 2(j) as the ‘Maintenance Tribunal’ constituted under Section 7.

 Hence, the Maintenance Tribunal under Section 7 of the Act would be the ADM or the SDM of the concerned sub-division.

Further, it was added that, filing of appeals qua maintenance-related matters are governed by Section 15 of the Act.

Bench while referring to the decisions of Naveen Kumar v. GNCTD, WP (C) No. 1337 of 2020, decided on 05-02-2020; Amit Kumar v. Kiran Sharma, WP (C) No. 106 of 2021, decided on 06-01-2021 and Shumir Oliver v. GNCTD, WP (C) No. 2857 of 2021, decided on 03-03-2021, held that any ‘affected person’ can prefer the appeal and not just a senior citizen or parent.

Procedure in respect to maintenance would be to first approach the concerned ADM/SDM concerned and thereafter, the Appellate Tribunal which is presided over by the Deputy Commissioner of the District concerned.

With respect to eviction proceedings, the same are governed by the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2016.

Hence as per The Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules (Amendment) Rules, 2016, a senior citizen can approach the Deputy Commissioner seeking eviction of the son, daughter or any other legal heir from his ‘self-acquired property’ on account of his non-maintenance and ill-treatment.

With regard to eviction, the first forum would be the Deputy Commissioner/District Magistrate, therefore, a challenge to the order of Deputy Commissioner would lie before the Divisional Commissioner.

Act and the various Rules and Notifications thereto are not readily available to litigants, as also lawyers, in the form of a separate publication. This may be one of the causes for confusion in filing multiple writ petitions directly against the first order of the tribunal or, in the case of eviction, from the order of the Deputy Commissioner/DM.

High Court also added to its observations that, the appellate forum and the limitation period is not within the knowledge of litigants and sometimes even lawyers, it is directed that the following two sentences be added at the end of every order passed by the initial forum i.e. the Tribunal under Section 7 of the Act or, in eviction cases, the Deputy Commissioner under Rule 23(3) of the Rules. 

For maintenance cases:

“The present order would be appealable, under Section 16 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 read with Rule 16 of The Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2009, to the Appellate Tribunal, presided over by the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned District. The period of limitation for filing of appeal is 60 days.”

For eviction cases:

“The present order would be appealable under Rule 22(3)(4) of The Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2009, as amended on 19th December, 2016 before the Divisional Commissioner, Delhi. The period of limitation for filing of appeal is 60 days.”

While parting with the present decision, High Court held that the present order be communicated to all the Maintenance Tribunals and Appellate Tribunals, as also the concerned Presiding Officers who are exercising powers under the Rules.

“…order be also sent to the worthy Registrar General for placing a copy at the filing counter so that whenever writ petitions are filed against original orders, the Registry can also inform lawyers of the availability of the alternate remedy, in case they wish to avail of the same.”

 Impugned Order be appealable to the Divisional Commissioner under Rule 22(3)(4).

The petition was accordingly permitted to be withdrawn with liberty to the petitioner to approach the Divisional Commissioner.[Rakhi Sharma v. State,  2021 SCC OnLine Del 1327, decided on 05-03-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: S.G. Chattopadhyay, J., elaborated on the aspect of economic abuse in term of Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Factual Matrix

Wife had presented an application under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, wherein she referred to several incidents of domestic violence against her husband.

Further, she alleged that her husband subjected her to harassment and torture for dowry and since she was unable to meet his demand, she was physically assaulted by her husband on various dates. Gradually he developed an extramarital affair. When the wife raised a protest against his conduct he assaulted her.

Trial Court found the wife to be entitled to a protection order, residence order and monetary relief, respondents were directed to make payment of Rs 2000/- per month as rent for accommodation to the aggrieved and further payment of Rs 15,000/- per month as monetary relief in the form of maintenance.

Additional Sessions Judge also partly allowed the appeal of the husband, his mother, brother and sister, by which the husband was solely proved to have committed domestic violence upon his wife and others were discharged from the liabilities.

In the present revision petition, husband has challenged the impugned judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge.

Core Issue agitated by the husband’s counsel:

Relief under the DV Act had been provided to the wife in absence of any proof of domestic violence.

Under Section 12 of the DV Act only the aggrieved person or a protection officer appointed under the DV Act or any other person on behalf the aggrieved person may present an application to the magistrate seeking one or more reliefs under this Act.

Allegation of domestic violence is a sine qua non for pursuing a petition under the DV Act.

Further, Court observed that under Section 3 of the DV Act which defines domestic violence, ‘economic abuse’ is a form of domestic violence.

Section 3 relates to ‘economic abuse’ which includes deprivation of all or any economic financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise.

Bench held that in the present matter, wife is obviously legally entitled to maintenance allowance from her husband who is a government employee since she made a good case of justifying why she was living separately.

Denial of maintenance to wife would definitely cause ‘economic abuse’ within the meaning of Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, therefore no infirmity in the impugned judgment was found.

Court directed that the monetary relief shall be paid by the husband by depositing the same in the wife’s savings bank account. The Family Court will determine the mode of payment of the outstanding arrear till 31-01-2021 after issuing notice to the parties and hearing them in person.

If the husband fails to pay the arrear, the same shall be deducted from his salary and paid to the wife.

In view of the above. Petition was dismissed. [Ramendra Kishore Bhattacharjee v. Madhurima Bhattacharjee, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 79, decided on 10-02-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

For the Appellant: Mr B. Deb, Adv.

For the Respondent: Mr S. Debnath, Addl. PP Mr Raju Datta

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Suresh Kumar Gupta, J., while addressing an issue with maintenance allowance determined a very significant point of whether rent allowance is included under maintenance allowance or not.

Factual Matrix

OP 2 had filed an application against the revisionist under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 before the Principal Judge/Family Court on 26-04-2014.

It has been submitted by the OP -2 that presently the daughters of OP-2 and revisionist are in the care and custody of OP-2.

OP-2 alleged that during her pregnancy of her second daughter, the revisionist solemnized marriage in USA with John NG and totally neglected OP-2 due to which she had to move out to Bangalore taking shelter at her parental house in NOIDA.

Family Court had directed the revisionist to deposit Rs 25,000/- maintenance each to the two minor daughters of the revisionist and Rs 20,000/- as rent, cumulatively Rs 70,000/- in exercise of powers under Section 125 CrPC.

During the pendency of interim maintenance, the revisionist moved the application to quash and modify the interim maintenance order.

High Court on perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case, observed the following:

 “…findings recorded in proceedings under Section 125 CrPC are not final and parties are always at liberty to agitate their rights in Civil Court.

Order under Section 125 CrPC does not finally determine the status, rights and obligations of the parties and it only provides for maintenance of indigent wives, children and parents.”

Bench relied on the decisions of the Supreme Court in Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, (2015) 6 SCC 353, Shamima Farooqui v. Shahid Khan, (2015) 5 SCC 705, Sunita Kachwaha v. Anil Kachwaha, (2014) 16 SCC 715 and various other decisions in order to reach a conclusion in the present matter.

In view of the decision cited, it is not permissible for the Court to reappreciate the evidence and nothing on record was present to show Family Court’s proceedings to be perverse.

In the case of maintenance, the Court has to see whether the wife has refused to live with her husband without any sufficient reason and it is also to be seen whether the husband has neglected to maintain his wife, without any valid reason.

In the present matter, wife and husband have been living separately due to the physical and mental cruelty meted out to the wife along with the extramarital relationship of the husband with another woman.

Bench also added that merely because the wife was capable of earning, this would not be a sufficient ground to refuse claim of maintenance to minor daughters.

If the husband is healthy, able-bodied and is in the position to support himself, thus, he is under the legal obligation to support his minor children and her wives.

Hence Family Court’s order for maintenance is appropriate, just and legal.

Bench on noting the fact that as per the OP-2’s salary slip she was already getting the house rent allowance, therefore, the same is not permissible under the maintenance allowance. In view of the same, the Judgment of the family court regarding Rs 20,000 as rent allowance was liable to be quashed.

“…rent allowance does not come in the purview of maintenance allowance under Section 125 CrPC.”

Concluding the decision, Court partly allowed the revision while upholding the maintenance allowance of Rs 25,000 each for minor daughters. [Ankur Gupta v. State of U.P.,  2021 SCC OnLine All 189, decided on 03-03-2021]


Advocates for the parties:

Counsel for Revisionist:- Rajiv Lochan Shukla, J.B. Singh

Counsel for Opposite Party:- G.A., Nipun Singh