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

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

Delhi High Court: J.R. Midha, J. laid modified directions and affidavit of assets, income and expenditure to be filed by both the parties at the very threshold of a matrimonial litigation. The Court has modified the directions and the format of affidavit already issued in earlier judgments of the Delhi High Court.

These modified directions/guidelines shall apply to all matrimonial cases including cases under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Section 125 CrPC; Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956; Special Marriage Act, 1954; Indian Divorce Act, 1869; Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956.

Earlier directions and affidavit

The directions to be followed while dealing with matrimonial cases were first issued in Kusum Sharma (1) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2014 SCC OnLine Del 7672. Further, in exercise of the powers under Section 10(3) of the Family Courts Act, 1984 read with Sections 106 and 165 of the Evidence Act and Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the format of affidavit of assets, income and expenditure was formulated by the Court in Kusum Sharma (2) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2015 SCC OnLine Del 6793 and the directions were modified. By its judgment in Kusum Sharma (3) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 11796, the Court modified the affidavit formulated in Kusum Sharma (2). Finally, in Kusum Sharma (4) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 12534, the directions and the affidavit were further modified. The modified directions in Kusum Sharma (4) have been in effect since 1st January 2018.

Need for modification

The High Court has now modified the earlier affidavit in Kusum Sharma (4) to make it more comprehensive. In the earlier judgments, the High Court considered International Best Practices including 10 affidavits of assets, income and expenditure used in 5 countries. 50 more formats of affidavits of assets, income and expenditure of various countries namely USA, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia and South Africa had now come to the notice of the Court. Thus, the Court was of the view that its judgment in Kusum Sharma (4) warrants modification.

The Bhandari Engineers case connection

In Bhandari Engineers & Builders( P) Ltd. (1) v. Maharia Raj Joint Venture (Ex. P. 275 of 2012, dt. 5-12-2019), the Delhi High Court had formulated an affidavit of assets, income and expenditure to be filed by the judgment-debtor in execution cases. By its decision in Bhandari Engineers & Builders( P) Ltd. (2) v. Maharia Raj Joint Venture (Ex. P. 275 of 2012, dt. 5-8-2020), the Court modified and improved the format of the affidavit to make it more comprehensive and further directions were passed so that the execution cases are decided within a period of 1 year from the date of their institution. In the Court’s opinion, the affidavits formulated in Bhandari Engineers (2) are far more comprehensive than the affidavit formulated by the Court for matrimonial cases. Therefore, the Court considered it appropriate to incorporate the benevolent features of Bhandari Engineers (2) in the format of the affidavits of assets, income and expenditure in matrimonial cases.

Affidavit of Assets, Income and Expenditure in matrimonial cases

The modified affidavit of assets, income and expenditure (“Annexure A2” in the present Judgment) is very comprehensive and is useful to determine the maintenance in matrimonial litigation.

Salaried person

A salaried person is required to disclose the particulars of his employment including salary, DA, commissions, incentives, bonus, perks, perquisites, other benefits, Income tax, etc.

Self-employed person

A self-employed person is required to disclose the nature of business/profession, share in the business, net worth of the business, number of employees, annual turnover/gross receipts, gross profit, Income Tax, net income and regular monthly withdrawal/drawings from the business.

Income from other sources

The parties are further required to disclose income from other sources, namely, agricultural income, rent, interest on bank deposits and other investments, dividends, mutual funds, annuities, profit on sale of movable/immovable assets, etc.

Assets

With respect to the assets, the parties are required to disclose the particulars of the immovable properties, financial assets including bank accounts, DEMAT accounts, safety deposit lockers; investments including FDRs, stocks, shares, insurance policies, loans, foreign investments; movable assets including motor vehicles, mobiles, computer, laptop, electronic gadgets, gold, silver and diamond jewellery, etc.; intangible assets; garnishee(s)/trade receivables; corporate/business interests; disposal and parting away of properties; properties acquired by the family members, inheritance.

Standard of living and lifestyle

The affidavit requires the parties to disclose their standard of living and lifestyle, namely, credit/debit cards, membership of clubs and other associations, loyalty programmes, social media accounts, domestic helps and their wages, mode of travel in city and outside city, category of hotels, category of hospitals for medical treatment, frequency of foreign travel, frequent flyer cards, brand of mobile, wrist watch, pen, expenditure ordinarily incurred on family functions, festivals and marriage of family members, etc.

Household expenditure, etc.

The affidavit further requires the disclosure of expenditure on housing, household expenditure, maintenance of dependents, transport, medical expenditure, insurance, entertainment, holiday and vacations, litigation expenses, discharge of liabilities, etc.

 Modified Directions

The modified directions laid down by the Court in the present decision in Kusum Sharma (5) are delineated below:

(1) The Court has to ascertain the financial capacity/status of the parties for determining the maintenance and permanent alimony. A comprehensive affidavit of assets, income and expenditure of both the parties is necessary to determine their financial capacity/status.

 (2) Upon completion of the pleadings in the maintenance application, the Court shall fix the date for reconciliation and direct the parties to simultaneously file the affidavits of their assets, income and expenditure. The Court shall also direct the party seeking maintenance to produce the passbook of his/her savings bank account in which maintenance can be directly deposited/transferred by the opposite party.

(3) The Court shall simultaneously take on record the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure of both the parties. The simultaneous filing of the affidavit by the parties is very important and should be strictly adhered to. The simultaneous filing of the affidavit by the parties would avoid any undue advantage to the party who files his/her affidavit later. It is clarified that the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure is not to be filed along with the petition/application or written statement/reply.

(4) If a party is carrying on the business as proprietor of proprietorship concern/partner of a partnership concern/director of a company/member of a HUF/trustee of a trust/ member of a society or in any other form/entity, the Court may consider directing the party to file an additional affidavit with respect to the assets of the proprietorship concern/partnership concern/ company/society/HUF/Trust, as the case may be, in the format of Annexure B1 attached to Bhandari Engineers (2).

(5) In pending maintenance cases, if the parties have not already filed the affidavit of their assets, income and expenditure, the Court shall direct the parties to file their affidavit in the format of Annexure A2.

(6) If the reconciliation fails, the Court shall grant an opportunity to the parties to respond to the affidavit of the opposite party and list the maintenance application for hearing.

(7) The Courts shall ensure that the filing of the affidavits by the parties is not reduced to a mere ritual or formality. If the affidavit of the party is not in the prescribed format or is not accompanied with all the relevant documents, the Court may take the affidavit on record and grant reasonable time to the party to remove the defects/deficiencies.

(8) In appropriate cases, the Court may direct a party to file an additional affidavit relating to his assets, income and expenditure at the time of marriage and/or one year before separation and/or at the time of separation.

(9) If the party does not truly disclose all his assets and income, the opposite party is at liberty to serve the interrogatories under Order 11 CPC and/or seek production of relevant documents from the party filing the affidavit.

(10) In appropriate cases, Court may order interrogatories, discovery, inspection, production of any document and/or order any fact to be proved by affidavit under Section 30 CPC.

(11) The Court shall, thereafter, consider whether the oral examination of the party is necessary under Section 165 of the Evidence Act. If so, the Court shall proceed to examine the party to elicit the truth. The principles relating to the scope and powers of the Court under Section 165 of the Evidence Act have been summarised in Ved Parkash Kharbanda v. Vimal Bindal, 2013 SCC OnLine Del 994, which may be referred to.

(12) If the admitted income of the parties is on record, such as, in the case of a salaried employee whose salary slip is on record, the Court may fix ad-interim maintenance on the basis of the admitted documents pending filing of the affidavit of the assets, income and expenditure by both the parties. The Court may record the statement of the parties, if considered necessary for fixing the ad-interim maintenance.

(13) If any party delays in filing of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure or the affidavit filed by a party is not in terms of these directions or a party delays the disclosure of further information/documents and the delay is causing hardship, the Court is at liberty to fix ad-interim maintenance after hearing the parties.

(14) If the statements made in affidavit of assets, income and expenditure are found to be incorrect, the Court shall consider its effect by drawing an adverse inference or imposing additional cost, while fixing the maintenance. However, an action under Section 340 CrPC is ordinarily not warranted in matrimonial litigation till the decision of the main petition unless the Court, for the reasons to be recorded, considers it expedient in the interest of justice, to deal with it earlier.

(15) At the time of issuing notice on the petition for dissolution of marriage, the Court shall consider directing the petitioner to deposit such sum, as the Court may consider appropriate for payment to the respondent towards interim litigation/part litigation expenses; except in cases, such as, divorce petition by the wife who is unable to support herself and is claiming maintenance from the respondent husband.

(16) The interim litigation expenses directed by the Court at the stage of issuing notice, does not preclude the respondent from seeking further litigation expenses incurred by the respondent at a later stage. The Court shall consider the respondent‘s claim for litigation expenses and pass an appropriate order on the merits of each case.

(17) At the time of passing a decree of divorce, the Court shall bring to the notice of the party concerned, as the case may be, that he/she can claim permanent alimony without prejudice to his/her right to challenge the decree of divorce and if the party seeks permanent alimony, at that stage, for which an oral prayer/application is sufficient, the Court shall fix the permanent alimony on the basis of the affidavits of assets, income and expenditure, after hearing both the parties. However, if the affidavits have not been filed at the stage of fixing the permanent alimony, the Court shall direct the parties to file the same before fixing the permanent alimony.

(18) In Bhandari Engineers & Builders( P) Ltd. (2) v. Maharia Raj Joint Venture (Ex. P. 275 of 2012, dt. 5-8-2020) the Delhi High Court has laid down comprehensive guidelines and has formulated affidavit of assets, income and expenditure to be filed by the judgment-debtor in execution proceedings, which may be considered in execution cases of the maintenance order apart from following the specific statutory provisions such as Sections 125 to 127 CrPC.

(19) The affidavit of assets, income and expenditure is to be treated as guidelines to determine the true financial capacity/status of the parties. The Courts are at liberty to determine the nature and extent of information/documents necessary and to direct the parties to disclose relevant information and documents to determine their financial capacity/status. The Courts are at liberty to pass appropriate directions as may be considered necessary to do complete justice between the parties and in appropriate cases, such as, the cases belonging to the lowest strata of the society or case of a litigant who is a permanently disabled/paralytic, the Court may, for reasons to be recorded, dispense with the requirement of filing of the affidavit or modify the information required.

(20) These modified directions/guidelines shall apply to all matrimonial cases including cases under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Section 125 CrPC; Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956; Special Marriage Act, 1954; Indian Divorce Act, 1869; Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956.

(21) Matrimonial jurisdiction deserves a special attention and the maintenance applications should be decided expeditiously.

(22) The Courts below shall expedite the maintenance proceedings and shall make an endeavour to decide them within the prescribed time. The Family Courts shall send the list of all pending maintenance cases which are more than one year old, through the Principal Judge, Family Court. The list shall contain the name of the case; date of institution; number of hearings that have taken place; and the reasons for such delay. List be prepared according to the seniority, i.e. the oldest case shall be mentioned first. The Principal Judge, Family Court shall compile the lists of all Family Courts and shall send them to the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court by 31st December 2020 for being placed before the High Court.

Ancillary directions and suggestions

(a) The amici curiae submitted that the matter be kept pending for seeking feedback/comments of the Family Courts after implementation of the modified directions/guidelines. The matter is to be listed on 18th December 2020.

(b) The Court was of the view that the mandatory filing of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure by the parties in a detailed prescribed form should be incorporated in the statutes, as in the developed countries. The Court was of the view that this suggestion be considered by the Central Government. Copy of the present judgment along with Annexure A2 is directed to be sent to Chetan Sharma, ASG, for taking up the matter with Ministry of Law and Justice.

(c) The modified directions and format of affidavit of assets, income and expenditure (Annexure A2) is directed to be uploaded on the website of the District Court (in .pdf format) to enable the lawyers/litigants to download the same.

(d) Copy of the present judgment and modified format of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure (Annexure A2) is directed to be sent to the Registrar General of this Court who shall circulate it to the District Judge (Headquarters) and Principal Judge, Family Courts (Headquarters) for being circulated to all the concerned courts.

(e) Copy of the judgment along with the modified format of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure (Annexures A2) is directed to be sent to the Delhi Judicial Academy to sensitise the judges about the modified directions laid down by the High Court.

(f) National Judicial Academy is reporting the best practices of the High Courts on their website (www.nja.nic.in) under the head of Practices & Initiatives of various High Courts. Copy of the present judgment along with Annexure A2 is directed to be sent to National Judicial Academy.

Note of appreciation

The Court appreciated the assistance rendered by Sunil Mittal, Senior Advocate and Anu Narula, Advocate as amici curiae. The Court also appreciated the extensive research on corresponding law in other countries by Akshay Chowdhary, Law Researcher, attached to the Delhi High Court. [Kusum Sharma (5) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 931, decided on 6-8-2020]

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

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

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Jaishree Thakur, J., allowed a petition filed under Section 482 CrPC and held that,

“Disgruntled wives use the provisions of Section 498- A IPC as a weapon rather than shield.”

Petitioners have been summoned to face trial under Sections 498-A, 506, 120-B Penal Code, 1860 an order declaring petitioners as proclaimed offenders.

Complainant got married to Jaswant Singh. The complaint was made against Jaswant Singh, Amarjit Kaur was alleged to be his second wife.

Soon after the marriage, accused persons had started harassing the complainant. Husband of the complainant at the instance of other accused gave the complainant beatings and stated that she would have no place in the house if the demands are not fulfilled.

Even during the birth of complainant’s child her delivery expenses were borne by her parents. Husband and petitioners herein along with mother-in-law taunted the complainant for not giving birth to a male child. 

Complainant was threatened of dire consequences on making a complaint against the husband.

Husband without taking divorce from the complainant had also solemnized a second marriage. Thus she filed a petition under Section 125 CrPC and also an application under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Bench observed that no direct and specific allegations against the petitioners were made out with regard to beating to the complainant or demand of dowry or misappropriation of stridhan.

Petitioner 1 is the sister-in-law of the complainant, who after marriage and had been residing in her matrimonial home, there is not even a remotest possibility that husband of the complainant was used to give beatings to her at the instance of petitioner 1. Petitioner 2 was 11 years old when the complainant alleged that she was given beatings by her husband at the instance of petitioner 2. Moreover, he had left for Canada in and was residing there since then. Similarly, petitioner 3 had also left for Canada in 1996 and was residing there since then with petitioner 2. In such an eventuality, it is hard to believe that petitioners had harassed the complainant as alleged in the complaint.

Thus, in view of the above, Court stated that,

It has become a common practice to use the provisions of Section 498- A IPC as a weapon rather than shield by disgruntled wives.

Simplest way to harass is to get the relatives of the husband roped in under this provision, no matter they are bed ridden grand parents of the husband or the relatives living abroad for decades.

In the present case also, complainant failed to make out a prima facie case against the petitioners regarding allegation of inflicting physical and mental torture.

Therefore, Court opined that the present case is a sheer abuse of process of law. [Amarjit Kaur v. Jaswinder Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 577 , decided on 15-05-2020]

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]

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 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

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

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J. dismissed a revision petition filed by the petitioner challenging the order passed by the Family Court whereby it had allowed the application under Section 125 CrPC (order for maintenance of wife, children and parents) filed by the respondent and directed the petitioner to pay her Rs 7500 per month as interim maintenance.

The petitioner, represented by Satish Chand, Advocate, contended that he was never married to the respondent, though he used to visit the tea stall owned by her. It was submitted that the respondent has taken undue advantage of friendly relations with the petitioner.

Per contra, the respondent, represented by A. Banerjee, Advocate, submitted that the petitioner was married to the respondent, but neglected to maintain her. The respondent opposed the instant petition.

Perusing the record, the High Court was of the opinion that the fact of the marriage of the petitioner with the respondent is a matter of trial. Reference was made to Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC Online SC 2301 and Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse, (2014) 1 SCC 188, wherein the Supreme Court has held that even an estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

In such view of the matter, the Court did not find any infirmity or illegality in the impugned order passed by the Family Court. Consequently, the present revision petition was dismissed.[Vijay Pal v. Shobha Devi, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10224, decided on 20-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. allowed the application of the petitioner to set aside the order granting maintenance to his wife when the divorce was granted on account of adultery on the wife’s part.

The petitioner filed an application under Section 19(4) of the Family Courts Act, 1984, against the order dated passed by the Principal Judge, Family Court, Vaishali at Hajipur which directed the petitioner to pay Rs 8,000 per month as maintenance to his wife. The order was delivered ex parte and there was no valid service of notice on the petitioner during the proceeding and, thus, he was unaware of the same. The revision petition was filed within the limitation period.

The impugned order was passed under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 which excludes a wife living in adultery from being entitled to receive any maintenance. It was submitted that in Divorce Case filed by the petitioner against the opposite party and one Sunny

Rajak, the Principal Judge, Family Court, Samastipur by judgment dated 11-10-2017, had dissolved the marriage between the petitioner and the opposite party on the ground that she was living in adultery with Sunny Rajak. It was submitted that in the said case, Sunny Rajak had contested the suit whereas the opposite party had chosen not to contest. The learned counsel submitted that once a competent Court had held the opposite party to be living in adultery with Sunny Rajak, Section 125(4) of the Code disentitles her to any maintenance from the petitioner.

The opposite party submitted that they have challenged the decree of divorce which was still pending.

The Court held that the order passed in the Maintenance Case No. 84 of 2016, could not be sustained. Section 125(4) of the Code clearly debars a wife living in adultery from receiving any maintenance from her husband. In the present case, the marriage between the parties was dissolved on the grounds that the opposite party was found to be living in adultery with one Sunny Rajak.  Further, the Court also that mere pendency of an appeal against the order dissolving the marriage, inter alia on the ground of adultery, which till date was neither disposed of nor any interim stay of such order was granted, cannot be a ground to uphold the order impugned.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant application was allowed and the order in the Maintenance Case was set aside.[Rajesh Rajak v. Rinku Devi, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1521, decided on 30-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Gurvinder Singh Gill, J. allowed the petition for the anticipatory bail with the condition to comply with the order of payment of maintenance to the complainant.

An application for the interim bail was made for the case registered under Sections 323, 406, 498-A and 506 of the Penal Code.

The brief facts of the case were that petitioner and other members of the families were not satisfied with the article of dowry and frequently used to harass the complainant. It was also alleged that the complainant was beaten by the accused on various occasion and was thrown out of the matrimonial house.

Shalender Mohan, counsel for the petitioner submitted that false FIR was registered against the petitioner on the account of some minor matrimonial differences between the parties. It was further added that the petitioner pursuant, to the interim directions, has already deposited an amount of Rs 1.25 lakhs and that he deserves the concession of bail.

Aditi Girdhar and Sandeep Kotla, counsels for the State and complainant respectively informed that the petitioner had joined the investigation but the gold articles comprising stridhan were yet to be discovered. It was further informed that the petitioner had not even deposited any amount towards the maintenance as under Section 125 CrPC, which is due since the last about three years.

The court thus opined that petitioner in the event of arrest be released on bail subject to furnishing the personal bond and surety bond to the satisfaction of arresting and investigating officer. The condition that the petitioner should clears payment of a least 50% of the arrears of maintenance awarded under Section 125 CrPC to the complainant within two months from today was also added by the court.[Vijay v. State of Haryana, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1475, decided on 19-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J., dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the maintenance order passed by the Additional Principal Judge.

The respondent filed an application under Section 125 CrPC to claim maintenance from the petitioner as she was forced to live in her parental house on account of cruelty by the husband. She had claimed that the petitioner was harassing her for the demand of dowry. She registered a criminal case against her husband and his family members for offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 294, 323 and 506 IPC. She also pleaded that she was unable to maintain herself as she does not have any source of income. The Family Court had allowed the application of the respondent and had directed the petitioner to pay interim maintenance taking into account the income of the petitioner’s father and brother.

The petitioner contended the respondent was living separately on her own will, as she did not want to live with his in-laws. He stated that this was the only reason why she left his house and lodged a complaint against him and his family members regarding the demand of dowry and harassment. He further claimed that he was still a student studying in B.Ed. and is dependent on the income of his parents, whereas the respondent was well educated and had obtained a Post Graduate Degree of M.Com., and had an independent source of income through tuition and was capable of maintaining herself. The respondent argued that the petitioner was living in a joint family and his father had agricultural land and was engaged in the business of seed and fertilizer. The petitioner was also involved in the said business and therefore had sufficient source of income to pay for the maintenance.

The Court held that a husband is duty-bound to make arrangement for maintenance of the wife. The respondent was legally wedded wife of the petitioner and she was residing separately from him and his family members as they used to harass her for the demand of dowry. The petitioner did not deny the criminal cases pending against him. Therefore, prima facie the respondent was living separately with a reasonable cause.

Therefore the respondent was duty-bound to make arrangement for the maintenance of his wife. He has not denied the fact that he lived in a joint family with his father and brother and was also involved in the family business of seed and fertilizer, which indicated that he had sufficient source of income.[Dhruv v. Sapna, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 2079, decided on 20-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Deepak Roshan, J. disposed of an application made by the petitioner for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

The petitioners filed an application to challenge the order passed by a Family Court, where her petition under Section 125 was dismissed. The petitioner, Patun Bibi, was legally married to respondent 2, Hanif Mian, as per Muslim Law and a female child was born out of their wedlock. She divorced him and claimed that her marriage with respondent 2 took place at the instigation of his first wife, Zaitun Bibi who was suffering from Psytica pain. It was claimed that after one year of conjugal life and birth of her daughter, respondent 2 started torturing her at the instigation of the Zaitun Bibi and that both the mother and daughter were subjected to cruelty. Respondent 2 challenged the very maintainability of the proceeding mainly on the ground that the petitioner is already a married person and he is living with his wife-Zaitun Bibi. He asserted that he has never married the petitioner. He further stated that he had a very healthy conjugal life with his own wife-Zaitun Bibi and she is not suffering from ‘psytica pain’ as alleged.

The trial court considered the issues presented before them and based upon the evidences produced concluded that the petitioner failed to establish her status as the legally wedded wife of Hanif Mian and if the daughter is actually their legitimate child. Respondent 2 denied being ever married to the petitioner. On the other hand, the petitioner admitted that she married Yusuf (her ex-husband) about 11 years ago and divorced him about 1 ½ years ago. She was admittedly married to Yusuf and after she divorced him, she married another man, Harmuz. The Court stated that the petitioner also failed to reproduce the ‘Nikahnama’ on the grounds that it was not prepared. This was considered suspicious by the Court because, under Muslim Law, every ‘Nikah’ is reproduced in “Nikahnama” and therefore, the marriage itself cannot be proved.

The petitioner vehemently argued that even in the case of live-in relationship, maintenance can be awarded under Section 125 as decided by the Supreme Court in Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse, (2014) 1 SCC 188. This present Court held that a long conjugal life/live in relation has never been proved by either of the prosecutions. On the other hand, there is evidence to prove that she was first married to Harmuz and then later to Yusuf.

The Court finally held that the petitioner has failed to point out any error in the order passed by the trial court and thus they cannot interfere. It was held that the petitioner is at liberty to take remedy of approaching the appropriate forum for Domestic Violence Act, 2005. In case the petitioner takes any step under the provision of Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the concerned forum must decide the matter in accordance with the law and without being prejudiced by the observation made by this Court.[Patun Bibi v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 997, decided on 02-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of G.S. Sistani and Jyoti Singh, JJ. allowed an appeal filed by the appellant-wife against the order of the Family Court whereby two applications filed by her against the respondent-husband were dismissed.

The appellant had filed two applications — one under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking maintenance for herself, and the other under Section 26 seeking custody of the two minor children. Both the applications were dismissed by the Family Court. The application under Section 24 was rejected on the sole ground that maintenance of Rs 2000 per month already stood fixed in proceedings arising under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Susmita Mahal, Advocate representing the appellant challenged the order of the Family Court. Per contra, Trilok Chand, Advocate appearing for the respondent supported the same.

The High Court, on a conjoint reading of Sections 20, 26 and 36 of the Domestic Violence Act, was of the opinion: “the provisions of DV Act dealing with maintenance are supplementary in the provisions of other laws and therefore maintenance can be granted to the aggrieved person(s) under the DV Act which would also be in addition to any order of maintenance arising out of Section 125 of CrPC.” Furthermore, “On the converse, if any order is passed by the Family Court under Section 24 HMA, the same would not debar the Court in the proceedings arising out of DV Act or proceedings under Section 125 CrPC instituted by the wife/aggrieved person claiming maintenance.”

The Court also clarified: “However, it cannot be laid down as a proposition of law that once an order of maintenance has been passed by any Court then the same cannot be re-adjudicated upon by any other Court. The legislative mandate envisages grant of maintenance to the wife under various statutes such as HMA, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, Section 125 CrPC as well as Section 20 of DV Act. As such various statutes have been enacted to provide for the maintenance to the wife and it is nowhere the intention of the legislature that once any order is passed in either of the proceedings the intention of the legislature that once any order is passed in either of the proceedings, the said order would debar re-adjudication of the issue of maintenance in any other Court.”

In such view of the matter, the impugned order rejecting maintenance to the appellant under Section 24 HMA was set aside. The second part where custody of children was rejected, was also quashed. The Family Court was directed to reconsider the applicants in terms with the law. The appeal was disposed of in terms above.[RD v. BD, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 9526, decided on 31-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Rusia, J. dismissed the revision petition and directed the applicant to pay Rs 3000 as maintenance to the respondents.

In the pertinent case, the applicant filed the present revision being aggrieved by the order passed by Family Court, Dhar whereby maintenance of Rs 3000 per month has been assessed with a direction to the applicant to pay it to the respondents.

The facts, in brief, are that the applicant and respondent are husband and wife. 7-8 years back the dispute arose between them due to the consumption of liquor and petty issues. Thereafter the respondent/wife has started living with her son, who is also married and working as labourer. The respondent/wife is also doing the work of maid in the houses of others and earning for herself. The applicant and respondent have a joint account in the State Bank with an amount of Rs 6 lakhs. Wife filed an application under Section 125 CrPC seeking maintenance from the applicant. The applicant submitted that he is not having any source of income and he is residing in the old aged home. The Family Judge after examining the record came to the conclusion that the applicant is earning and can maintain his wife.

High Court dismissed the revision petition and held that the respondent is surviving by doing the work of maid in the houses of other and she cannot be permanently dependent on her son who is also married and not having a permanent job. Further, the applicant has received the lump sum amount by selling the house and is lying in the bank and the wife is also a joint account holder but she is deprived of to use the said amount. Being her husband the applicant is liable to maintain his wife. Also, the amount of Rs 3000 per month cannot be said to be on the higher side.[Ashok v. Meenabai, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1893, decided on 05-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J. contemplated a revision application under Section 19(4) of Family Courts Act, 1984 read with Sections 397 and 401 CrPC. In the instant application, the applicant was directed to pay Rs 3000 per month as maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

Facts leading to the filing of this revision application were that respondent-wife moved an application under Section 125 CrPC against the applicant for grant of a maintenance amount, she alleged that after some time of the marriage, the applicant persistently made a demand of dowry from the respondent; and he used to harass her. Since then, she was residing in the house of her mother. She does not had any source of income thus, she found it difficult to maintain herself, whereas the applicant had 10 bighas of agricultural land and he was also engaged in the business of selling cattle, thereby earning Rs 1,00,000 per annum. Therefore, a prayer was made by the respondent/wife for grant of maintenance of Rs 10,000 per month before the Family Court. The said application was partly allowed vide the impugned order and the Family Court had directed the applicant to pay Rs 3,000 per month towards the maintenance of the respondent. Feeling aggrieved by the fixation of a maintenance amount, the applicant had preferred this revision application.

The applicant-husband contended that the marriage was solemnized in 2015 as per Muslim Rituals and Customs. It was further submitted that the respondent had earlier registered a case under Section 498-A of Penal Code, 1860 under Section 3 read with Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, but the matter was amicably settled between them but subsequently, the respondent again deserted him.

The counsel for the applicant, M.K. Sharma, submitted that the respondent was not entitled to receive any maintenance as she had deserted the applicant without any reason. It was highlighted that the respondent did not want to live in a joint family and if the applicant arranged for a separate residence she was willing to return.

Court on such contention by the applicant observed that, the Family Court had committed an error of law in allowing the application for grant of maintenance, as the case was not in favor of the respondent. The Court stated that, the respondent had accepted in her statement that earlier she lodged FIR against the applicant and his parents for the commission of the said offence. However, later on, she compromised the matter and returned back to her matrimonial house. Thereafter, she again left her matrimonial house, in her cross-examination in which she categorically stated that she was ready to live with the applicant if the applicant makes arrangement for their separate residence. The actions of the respondents were found contradictory. Hence the revision was allowed and the order was cancelled.[Aarif v. Shajida, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 1379, decided on 04-07-2019]