Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: K. Murali Shankar, J., addressed the issue with regard to payment of maintenance, whether from the date of application or date of order.

Factual Matrix

In the present matter, the second respondent is the mother and respondents 3 and 4, brothers of the first respondent who had married the petitioner. After a while misunderstandings arose between the petitioner and first respondent due to which they started living separately.

Petitioner had filed a maintenance case earlier and the Magistrate passed an order directing the first respondent to pay monthly maintenance at Rs 5,000 per month to the petitioner and her minor children.

Petitioner’s case

Petitioner stated that in order to avoid the payment of maintenance, respondents conspired and took the petitioner and her children to Chennai so as to resume their cohabitation. In the period of two months that the petitioner lived with first respondent, she was harassed and tortured physically and mentally and the petitioner was forcefully sent out of the matrimonial home by forcibly retaining the minor children.

In view of the above petitioner invoked the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic violence Act, 2005.

Trial Court passed impugned order, wherein first respondent was directed to pay the maintenance of Rs 5,000. On not being satisfied with the maintenance amount also the order of the trial court directing the first respondent to pay maintenance from the date of the order, petitioner/wife came forward with the present revision.

Analysis

Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 does not provide the date from which the maintenance to be awarded and there is no provisions in the Hindu Adoption and Marriage Act with respect to the date from which the maintenance order may be made effective. But, at the same time, Section 125(2) CrPC, contemplates that the Magistrate may award maintenance either from the date of order or from the date of application.

 In the Supreme Court decision of Jaiminiben Hirenbhai Vyas v. Hirenbhai Rameshchandras Vyas, (2015) 2 SCC 385, it was held that Section 125 CrPC, impliedly requires the Court to consider making the order for maintenance effective from either of the two dates, having regard to the relevant facts.

It is neither appropriate nor desirable that a Court simply states that maintenance should be paid from either the date of order or the date of the application in matters of maintenance.

As per Section 354(6) of the CrPC, the Court should record reasons in support of the order passed by it, in both eventualities and that the purpose of the provision is to prevent vagrancy and destitution in society and the Court must apply its mind to the options having regard to the facts of the particular case.

Supreme Court in its decision of Rajnesh v. Neha,2020 SCC OnLine SC 903, after analyzing the provisions in various enactment of the Judgments of the appeal and considering the divergent views taken by the various Courts issued necessary direction to bring about the uniformity in the orders passed by all the Courts.

Right to claim maintenance must date back to the date of filing of the application, since the period during which maintenance proceedings remained pending is not within the control of the applicant. Considering the above, the Supreme Court categorically directed that all the Courts award maintenance from the date of application.

 Conclusion

In the present matter, the petitioner had filed the case in the year 2014 and the impugned order was passed on 11-07-2017.

In view of the above discussion, Court held that it has no hesitation to hold that the impugned order granting maintenance from the date of order is liable to be set aside and the petitioner would be entitled to get maintenance from the date of application.

Hence, criminal revision case was partly allowed. [Mohamed Nisha Banu v. Mohamed Rafi, Crl. RC (MD) No. 701 of 2017, decided on 17-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared for the parties:

For petitioner : S.M. Jinnah

For Respondent: No appearance

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Dr Y.K. Srivastava, J., expressed while deciding the present application that:

“Proceeding for interim maintenance, shall as far as possible, be disposed of within 60 days from the date of service of notice on the husband.”

Instant application was filed under Section 482 CrPC, seeking quashing of order in proceedings in a case filed under Section 125 of CrPC.

Additional Advocate General appearing for the State respondents raised an objection with regard to the maintainability of the present petition on the ground that the order sought to be quashed, related to grant of interim maintenance, is subject to a final adjudication on the main petition filed under Section 125 CrPC It is submitted that it is open to the applicant to raise all his objections before the Family Court.

Section 125 CrPC falls under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and it contains provisions whereunder, an order for maintenance of wives, children and parents can be made. The object of the provisions contained under Chapter IX is to provide a speedy and effective remedy against persons, who neglect or refuse to maintain their dependent wives, children and parents.

It was observed that the proceedings for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC are of a summary nature and the purpose and object of the same is to provide immediate relief to the applicant.

An application under Section 125 CrPC can be moved by the wife on fulfilment of two conditions :-

a) the husband has sufficient means and;

(b) he neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, who is unable to maintain herself. The Magistrate, in such a case, may direct the husband to pay such monthly sum of the money, as deemed fit taking into consideration the financial capacity of the husband and other relevant factors.

Bench observed that Section 125 CrPC is in the nature of a benevolent provision having a social purpose with the primary objective to ensure social justice to the wife, child and parents, who are unable to support themselves so as to prevent destitution and vagrancy.

With regard to the third proviso of Section 125 CrPC, Court expressed that it gives a timeline by providing that the proceeding for interim maintenance, shall as far as possible, be disposed of within 60 days from the date of service of notice on the husband.

Hence, an order granting interim maintenance is subject to a final adjudication on the main petition and the interim maintenance granted during the pendency of the proceedings is only provisional maintenance subject to final determination to be made on the conclusion of the proceedings.

In light of the above discussion, the Court exercised its inherent jurisdiction in respect of the reliefs prayed for.

Counsel for the applicant at this stage made a prayer that he may be permitted to withdraw the present application and stated that the applicant would contest the proceedings before the court below.

The present application filed under Section 482 CrPC stood, accordingly, dismissed. [Mithilesh Maurya v. State of U.P., Application u/s 482 no. – 19612 of 2020, decided on 08-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Raj Beer Singh, J., observed that:

“The object of the Section 125 CrPC being to afford a swift remedy, and the determination by the Magistrate as to the status of the parties being subject to a final determination by the Civil Court, when the husband denies that the applicant is not his wife, all that the Magistrate has to find, in a proceeding under Section 125 CrPC, is whether there was some marriage ceremony between the parties, whether they have lived as husband and wife in the eyes of their neighbours, whether children were born from the union.”

The instant revision was preferred against the order passed under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code.

Contention that falls for consideration:

Whether respondent 2 has been able to show herself as married wife of revisionist in order to claim maintenance from revisionist under Section 125 CrPC?

Proceedings under Section 125 CrPC. are summary proceeding. In Supreme Court’s decision of Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit, (1999) 7 SCC 675, it was observed that the standard of proof of marriage in a Section 125 proceeding is not as strict as is required in a trial for an offence under Section 494 IPC.

Bench expressed that it is a well-settled law that for the purposes of a proceeding under Section 125 CrPC, the factum of marriage has to be prima facie considered.

“If there is prima facie material on record to suggest that the parties have married or are having relationship in the nature of marriage, the court can presume in favour of the woman claiming maintenance.”

 Court also stated that an order passed in an application under Section 125 CrPC does not finally determine the rights and obligations of the parties and the said section is enacted with a view to provide a summary remedy for providing maintenance to a wife, children and parents.

In the decision of S. Sethurathiuam Pillai v. Barbara it was observed that maintenance under Section 488 CrPC, 1898 (similar to Section 125 Cr.P.C.) cannot be denied where there was some evidence on which conclusion for grant of maintenance could be reached. It was held that order passed under Section 488 is a summary order which does not finally determine the rights and obligations of the parties; the decision of the criminal court that there was a valid marriage between the parties will not operate as decisive in any civil proceeding between the parties.

Court observed that in a proceeding for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, a Magistrate or Judge of the Family Court has to be prima facie satisfied about the marital status of the parties, as a decision under Section 125 CrPC is tentative in nature, subject to the decision in any civil proceeding, as has been held in Santosh v. Naresh Pal (1998) 8 SCC 447.

In light of the above discussions, High Court states that if from the evidence which is led, the Magistrate/Court is prima facie satisfied with regard to the performance of marriage in proceedings under Section 125 CrPC which are of summary nature, strict proof of performance of essential rites is not required.

In the instant matter, respondent 2 had submitted that her nikah was solemnized with the revisionist and out of that marriage, she gave birth to a daughter, but she was killed by the revisionist, whereas the case of the revisionist was that his nikah was never solemnized and they never lived as husband and wife together.

Limited Scope of Revisional Court

Question whether the respondent 2 was a married wife of revisionist, is a question of fact and thus, this court cannot upset the finding of the trial court by entering into re-appreciation of evidence, unless it is shown such a finding is not based on evidence or some patent error of jurisdiction is shown. In the instant case, no such eventuality could be shown. In fact, if the wife had been neglected and the wife was entitled to maintenance, the scope of interference by the Revisional Court is very limited.

Further, the Court added that in view of evidence on record, the grant of maintenance from the date of application cannot be said arbitrary or against law. The quantum of maintenance also appeared reasonable and appropriate.

“If a party deliberately delays the proceedings for long period, such party must not be allowed to take advantage of such tactics.”

 High Court found no illegality, perversity or error of jurisdiction in the impugned order.

While parting with the decision, Court added that the Court has to keep in mind that the exercise of revisional jurisdiction itself should not lead to injustice ex facie. [Irshad Ali v. State of U.P., Criminal Revision No. 1555 of 2020, decided on 08-01-2021]


Advocates who appeared on behalf of the parties:

 Counsel for Revisionist: Krishna Mishra

Counsel for Opposite Party: G.A.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

In our series of 2020 wrap-ups, let’s revisit and take a dive at some of our stories on family laws and how different High Courts dealt with the same involving some very significant rulings.

We have listed down Case briefs under sub-categories, of our coverage under the Family Law and its allied provisions.


[Allahabad High Court]

Custody of Minor

In minor’s custody case, where child is below 5 years of age, mother is preferred, but is there any exception to it? All HC explains

[Meenakshi v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1475, decided on 02-12-2020]

If a natural guardian faces criminal charges relating to death of spouse, can custody of children or visitation rights be granted? All HC discusses

[Shaurya Gautam v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 1372, decided on 10-11-2020]

Decree of Eviction against Son

Can daughter-in-law be evicted without seeking decree of eviction against the son under S. 2(s) of Domestic Violence Act? All HC answers

[Sujata Gandhi v. S.B. Gandhi, 2020 SCC OnLine All 763, decided on 12-06-2020]


 [Bombay High Court]

Alimony

If the wife is earning something for livelihood, can the same be a ground to refuse alimony under S. 24 of Hindu Marriage Act? Read Bom HC’s ruling reiterating SC’s decision

[Arpana Vijay Manore v. Dr Vijay TukaramManore, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 3925, decided on 09-12-2020]

Bigamy

Person committing offence under S. 494 IPC, must have married another woman or man during subsistence of his or her first marriage; Bom HC invokes power under S. 482 CrPC to meet ends of justice

[Rekha v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 291, decided on 13-02-2020]

 Cooling-off Period

Can “cooling-off period” under S. 13-B(2) of Hindu Marriage Act be waived? Legal position discussed in a case of pregnant woman

[Kovelamudi Kanika Dhillon v. Kovelamudi Surya Prakash Rao,  2020 SCC OnLineBom 2054, decided on 26-10-2020]

 Cruelty to Woman

Abuse of S. 498-A IPC by making vague allegations and roping in family members of husband: Courts to carefully scrutinize allegations

[Shabnam Sheikh v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 1752, decided on 15-10-2020]

“Easy to accuse somebody of ill-treatment after someone dies, but not wise to convict somebody based on general statements”: Bom HC holds every cruelty is not an offence under S. 498-A IPC

[State of Maharashtra v. Shri Balu Ravji Abhang, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 307, decided on 20-02-2020]

Family members should not be dragged without specific evidence against them, otherwise, S. 498-A IPC is unfortunately misused as a weapon, says Bom HC

[State of Maharashtra v. Ashok, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 331, decided on 26-02-2020]

 Custody of Minor

Welfare of child as paramount consideration: Bom HC gives custody to father of minor for mother not being able to take care of the child

[Sashanka v. Prakash, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 3497, decided on 27-11-2020]

Domestic Violence & Jurisdiction of Courts

Does Family Court has jurisdiction to entertain an application for relief under Ss. 18 to 22 of DV Act? Read what Bom HC held

[Hitesh Prakashmalji Mehta v. Aashika Hitesh Mehta, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 983, decided on 28-09-2020]

Second Marriage

Performing second marriage during pendency of an appeal is a breach under S. 15 of HMA, but would it amount to civil contempt? Bom HC analyses

[Kanchan v. Prashant Manikrao Bagade, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 911, decided on 08-09-2020]

 Unmarried Daughter (Maintenance)

Whether unmarried daughter who is major by age, entitled to claim maintenance from father till her marriage? Bom HC explains law in light of Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act

[Sanjay J. Phagnekar v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 3382, decided on 23-11-2020]

Widowed Daughter-in-Law (Maintenance)

Can a widowed daughter-in-law claim maintenance from the estate inherited by her father-in-law? Law explained

[Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Mathroo v. Harneet Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 927, decided on 07-09-2020]

 Wife having Independent Source of Income (Maintenance)

[S. 125 CrPC] Wife cannot be denied maintenance on ground of having a source of income: Restated by Bom HC

[Sanjay Damodar Kale v. Kalyani Sanjay Kale, 2020 SCC OnLineBom 694, decided on 26-05-2020]


[Calcutta High Court]

Child Marriages

Alarming rise of child marriages during lockdown has given a strong impression that they may be in garb of child trafficking; Police to investigate

[Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Children, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1066, decided on 25-06-2020]

 Harassment over Complexion

Harassment by in-laws for woman’s black complexion is cruelty under S. 498-A IPC; Husband convicted for murdering wife over her black complexion

[Mazidul Miah v. State of W.B., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 1077, decided on 25-06-2020]


[Chhattisgarh High Court]

Alienation of Property by Alleged Wife

Whether alienation of property by an alleged wife of a deceased is void? Chh HC analyses position in light of ‘Customs’ under Hindu Marriage Act

[Anirudh Prasad Kamal Sen v. Dashmat Bai Suryavanshi, Second Appeal No. 93 of 2009, decided on 28-08-2020]

Cause of Action

In a matrimonial dispute, cause of action can arise several times, even if the dispute is settled and case has been withdrawn

[Harsha Dewani v. Ashutosh Gupta, 2020 SCC OnLineChh 149, decided on 10-08-2020]


[Delhi High Court]

Adultery

Adultery can only be committed after marriage, allegation of having relationship before marriage cannot be a ground of adultery; Divorce petition dismissed

[Vishal Singh v. Priya, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 638, decided on 12-06-2020]

Affidavit of Assets, Income and Expenditure

Del HC updates Affidavit of Assets, Income & Expenditure to be filed at threshold of matrimonial disputes; Issues modified directions [Detailed Report: Read Directions]

[Kusum Sharma (5) v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 931, decided on 6-8-2020]

Cruelty & Desertion

Del HC analyses “A typical case that showcases as to what would amount to cruel behaviour on part of one spouse to utter detriment of other”

[Venkatesh Narasimhan v. V. Sujatha, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 571, decided on 01-05-2020]

Divorce Proceedings

Husband citizen and domicile of USA, Can he raise objections on divorce proceedings filed by wife in India? Del HC decrypts the law in light of catena of SC decisions

[Karan Goel v. Kanika Goel, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1319, decided on 12-10-2020]

 Impotency

Is making false allegation of impotency by wife against husband a ground for decree of divorce? Del HC determines

[Kirti Nagpal v. Rohit Girdhar, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1466, decided on 20-11-2020]

Maintenance

If interim maintenance by wife has already been secured under Domestic Violence Act, will application under S. 125 CrPC be maintainable? Del HC answers

[Rani v. Dinesh, Crl. Rev. P. 1091 of 2019 and Crl. M.A 13677 of 2020, decided on 02-12-2020]

Matrimonial Disputes

Del HC reiterates SC’s position on “duty of the Courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes”

[Harish Kumar v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1635, decided on 04-12-2020]

 Remedy against Custody Orders

“No exception to remedy against orders of custody under Domestic Violence Act”: Del HC dismisses S. 482 CrPC petition in view of S. 29 DV Act

[Srisha Dinav Bansal v. Rajiv Bansal, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 764, decided on 20-07-2020]

Right to Privacy versus Right to Fair Trial

[S. 14 of Family Courts Act] In a contest between right to privacy and right to fair trial, both of which arise under expansive Art. 21, right to privacy may have to yield to right to fair trial

[Deepti Kapur v. Kunal Julka, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 672, decided on 30-06-2020]

Second Marriage & Custody of Children

Second marriage of a mother is by itself not sufficient to deprive her of custody of her biological child

[Faisal Khan v. Humera,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 572, decided on 1-5-2020]

Settlement Deed affecting Children’s Right to Maintenance

Is it lawful for a wife to agree to a settlement deed in the process of dissolution of marriage wherein she settles that her minor children will not claim maintenance in future? Court explains

[Vashno Jaishwal v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1504, decided on 20-11-2020]


[Gauhati High Court]

 Conjugal Life

Refusal to wear “sakha and sindoor” is clear intention that a hindu wife is unwilling to continue conjugal life: Divorce decreed to husband

[Bhaskar Das v. Renu Das, 2020 SCC OnLineGau 2954, decided on 19-06-2020]

 Maintenance

If a woman is divorced, will her status as a wife entitling her to maintenance under S. 125 CrPC change? Read Gau HC’s position

[Bijoy Seal v. Sefali Seal, 2020 SCC OnLineGau 4024, decided on 30-09-2020]

Special Marriage Act

If a marriage is first solemnised under the Special Marriage Act and later upon conversion to Islam, marriage is again solemnised under Mohammedan Law: Which law will prevail for dissolution of marriage? Gau HC to consider

[Md Makfur Rahman v. Malina Deb Barman, 2020 SCC OnLineGau 4645, decided on 23-04-2020]


[Gujarat High Court]

Permanent Alimony to a Muslim Woman

Will permanent alimony granted to a Muslim woman be conditional to her remarriage? Detailed report untangling significance of ‘Permanent Alimony’ & ‘Periodical Maintenance’

[Tarif Rashidbhai Qureshi v. Asmabanu, 2020 SCC OnLineGuj 711, decided on 19-03-2020]

Special Marriage Act

If marriage is registered under Special Marriage Act, is it necessary for the couple to take recourse of same law to sever ties permanently? Guj HC elucidates in a custody matter

[Chavda Twinkle v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLineGuj 1167, decided on 17-07-2020]


[Himachal Pradesh High Court]

Ancestral Property

Can wife claim maintenance under S. 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 over ‘ancestral property’ of the husband? HP HC explains

[Kubja Devi v. Chhape Ram,  2020 SCC OnLine HP 1829, decided on 05-10-2020]


[Jharkhand High Court]

Desertion

‘Desertion’ has to be wilful and voluntary for a valid ground for divorce under S. 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Legal principle “No one can take a benefit of his own fault” applied

[Sanjay Kumar v. Suman Kumari, 2020 SCC OnLineJhar 773, decided on 08-09-2020]


[Karnataka High Court]

Cruelty to First Wife

Though Shariat permits a Muslim man to practise polygamy, but would that amount to cruelty to first wife? Kar HC explains concept of Marital Cruelty

[Yusufpatel v. Ramjanbi, MFA No. 201154 of 2018 (FC), decided on 17-08-2020]


 [Kerala High Court]

Convenience & Welfare of Children over Wife

In matrimonial matters preference is to be given to convenience and welfare of children over wife: Ker HC dismisses application for transfer of case

[Nimi v. Ajith M.T., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4313, decided on 09-10-2020]

Cruelty

Wife’s persistent effort to separate husband from family amounts to cruelty: Divorce granted in favour of husband

[Ranjith P.C. v. Asha Nair. P, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 1751 , decided on 20-05-2020]

 Dowry

Is there a limitation period for wife to claim property entrusted to in-laws given in form of dowry? Ker HC answers

[Sheela K.K. v. N.G. Suresh, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4240, decided on 24-09-2020]

 Suppressing Material Facts & Marriage

If a wife obtains husband’s consent for marriage by suppressing material facts like cardiac ailments, would that amount to fraud? Ker HC explains whether marriage can be declared null & void

[Ajitha v. Harshan, Mat. Appeal No. 734 of 2012, decided on 25-09-2020]

 Transfer Petitions related to Matrimonial Disputes

While considering transfer petitions related to matrimonial disputes, the convenience of wife is to be preferred over the convenience of husband; Ker HC reiterates

[Kavitha v. Gopakumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 6098, decided on 30-11-2020]


[Madras High Court]

Customary Divorce

Can plea of customary divorce be considered as a valid defence while departmental proceeding for bigamy is initiated? Madras HC considers scope of defence under Service Rules

[Sudalaimai v. Deputy Inspector General of Police, WP (MD) No. 17504 of 2014, decided on 09-09-2020]

 Illegitimate Child [Maintenance]

Is an illegitimate child entitled to maintenance under S. 125 CrPC? Madras HC reiterates legal position

[Pachaimuthu v. Minor Vishanthini, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2677, decided on 01-10-2020]

Limitation Period for Domestic Violence Complaints

Limitation provided under CrPC is applicable to complaints under Domestic Violence Act: Madras HC rejects complaint filed after lapse of 1 yr 10 months

[N. Prasad v. Harithalakshmi, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1767, decided on 20-07-2020]

 Void Marriage

What is the essential condition for validity of any marriage? Detailed Report highlighting legality of marriage of a girl below 18 years of age

[Prakash v. State, Crl. A. No. 334 of 2014, decided on 30-11-2020]


[Orissa High Court]

Rights of a “lady” in Same-sex Couple Relationship

Same-sex couple have a right to live together outside wedlock; Rights of a woman enshrined in Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 to apply on the “lady” in the relationship

[Chinmayee Jena v. State of Odisha, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 602, decided on 24-08-2020]


[Punjab & Haryana High Court]

Sapinda Prohibition

Whether partners falling in sapinda prohibition under HMA can stay in a live-in relationship? Parties argue while hearing in anticipatory bail

[Akhilesh v. State of Punjab,  2020 SCC OnLine P&H 2058, decided on 19-11-2020]

Section 498-A IPC, a weapon?

Disgruntled wives use provisions of S. 498-A IPC as a weapon rather than shield: P&H HC

[Amarjit Kaur v. Jaswinder Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 577, decided on 15-05-2020]

 Voidable Marriage

In case a marriage is solemnized in violation of age restriction, marriage is only voidable

[Deepak Kumar v. State of Haryana, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 759 , decided on 15-06-2020]


[Rajasthan High Court]

Theory of Homicidal Death

Allegation of woman set ablaze in view of dowry demand dismissed; Prosecution theory of homicidal death sheer exaggeration; finds Raj HC

[Gopal v. State of Rajasthan, DB Criminal Appeal No. 799 of 2014, decided on 06-08-2020]


 [Telangana High Court]

Harassment or Cruelty

For invoking S. 304-B IPC, harassment or cruelty caused to a woman should have happened “soon before her death”

[Surender Singh v. State of A.P., 2020 SCC OnLine TS 874, decided on 06-07-2020]


[Tripura High Court]

Dissolution of Marriage of ST Couple

Will Hindu Marriage Act have application on a couple belonging to Scheduled Tribe notified under the Constitution for purpose of dissolution of marriage? Tripura HC explains

[Rupa Debbarma v. Tapash Debbarma, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 425, decided on 09-09-2020]

Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage

What amounts to irretrievable breakdown of marriage? Tripura HC discusses in a case where the couple lived apart for 13 continuous years

[Aparna Dey v. Alok Dey, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 411, decided on 09-09-2020]

Lived like a Wife [Maintenance]

“Woman who lived like wife, cannot be deprived of maintenance”: Tripura HC grants maintenance to woman who “lived like wife” for 10 yrs

[Sri Bibhuti Ranjan Das v. Gouri Das, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 280, decided on 07-07-2020]


[Uttaranchal High Court]

Medical Examination of Wife in Divorce Proceedings

Wife not eligible for medical examination of whether she can conceive or not during Divorce proceedings; Utt HC allows appeal

[Rashmi Gupta v. YogeshBabu, 2020 SCC OnLineUtt 339, decided on 01-07-2020]

 Mental Cruelty

Mental cruelty is no less than physical cruelty, wife causing mental cruelty to husband valid ground for dissolution of marriage; Utt HC dismisses appeal

[Anita Gaur v. Rajesh Gaur, 2020 SCC OnLineUtt 503, decided on 24-08-2020]


Also Read:

2020 Wrap Up — Flashback of Stories on Consumer Cases

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: Soumitra Saikia, J., observed that

“..a valid decree of divorce by itself is no ground to deny the maintenance to a divorced wife.”

The criminal petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 sought the quashment of the Judgment and Order.

Wife/OP had filed an application under Section 125 CrPC claiming maintenance from the petitioner/husband @ Rs 5000 per month, later the husband filed a petition seeking to reduce the maintenance allowance stating that there was a substantial loss of income and was facing financial hardship.

In the meanwhile, the divorce case was decreed in favour of the husband. By the said judgment, the marriage was dissolved by decree of divorce under Section 13(1)(i–a) and (i)(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Later, the husband’s petition seeking to reduce the maintenance allowance was allowed. The wife again preferred the revision petition stating that she decree of divorce would not automatically disentitle the wife from getting maintenance and the said revision petition was allowed by setting aside by remanding the matter back to the Judicial Magistrate Court.

Being aggrieved with the above, the husband filed the present criminal petition.

Analysis and Decision

On perusal of Section 125 and 127 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, it revealed that legislature engrafted the said provisions for the benefit of the wife, a child and the parents of any person of any in order prevent them from becoming destitute.

In the instant matter, the concern is with regard to the maintenance in respect of a divorced wife.

“…true purport of the provisions of Section 125 is to ensure that in the event the husband fails to provide for adequate sustenance on an application made before the Magistrate, the sections empower the Magistrate to order the husband to provide for adequate maintenance for the benefit of the wife so as to prevent the wife from being reduced to a destitute or be compelled to live a life of beggary.”

Supreme Court consistently has held that a divorced wife would also be included in the definition of a wife as it defined under Section 125 CrPC.

“…responsibility of the husband towards a wife will not cease merely because a decree of divorce has been passed severing the marriage between the husband the wife.”

Decisions referred by the Court:

Rohtash Singh v. Ramendri, (2000) 3 SCC 180; Manoj Kumar v. Champa Devi,(2018) 12 SCC 748, Swapan Kumar Banerjee v. State of West Bengal, (2019) 4 SCC 146.

Court upon perusal of the Supreme Court decisions stated that it is evident that Section 125 CrPC being beneficial legislation to provide for protection to the wife, a mere divorce between the husband and wife will not preclude the “divorced wife” from claiming and/or availing of the benefits available to a wife under Section 125 CrPC.

The husband cannot absolve his responsibility to maintain and to provide for the adequate maintenance to the wife unless there are evidences to support that the wife is no longer required to be maintained in view of certain changed circumstances.

Bench also added that the claim for maintenance of a divorced wife can only be defeated either on the ground that she has remarried or that she is able to maintain herself. 

“…a ‘divorce’ does not change the status of a wife in the context of Section 125 CrPC.”

“…power under Section 127(2) CrPC, can only be invoked by a magistrate for cancellation of maintenance granted earlier only when there are changed circumstances after grant of such maintenance under Section 125.”

In the instant matter, there was no change of circumstances, which required the magistrate to invoke its powers under Section 127(2) for cancellation of the order directing payment of maintenance.

High Court directed the trial court to decide the matter afresh. [Bijoy Seal v. Sefali Seal, 2020 SCC OnLine Gau 4024, decided on 30-09-2020]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

Advocate for the Petitioner: P J SAIKIA

Advocate for the Respondent:  K KALITA

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon, JJ., while addressing the instant matter, observed that:

The wife and children of a personnel of the Air Force who has sworn to put his life in peril deserve a treatment different from that of a civilian who has no obligation to sacrifice his life for the country.

Petitioner, a sergeant in the Indian Air Force (IAF) filed the petition in regard to the following:

  • impugning the Air Force Order issued by respondent 2 Chief of Air Staff
  • impugning the administrative order issued by the Chief of Air Staff, sanctioning maintenance claim against the petitioner.
  • Seeking maintenance, directing respondent 2 Chief of Air Staff to refund the amount of maintenance granted under the administrative order, to the son of the petitioner and payable to the respondent 5 i.e. wife of the petitioner.

What the petitioner alleged?

Petitioner’s wife left matrimonial home along with her son and refused to join the petitioner in spite of repeated efforts of the petitioner. Petitioner approached the family court for dissolution of marriage and further initiated custody proceedings for his son.

As a counterblast, wife of the petitioner initiated proceedings under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for maintenance and also approached the Court under Section 156(3) CrPC for registration of a case under Sections 141, 149, 363, 504 & 506 of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner and his parents.

Wife of the petitioner also filed a false and fabricated case under Section 498A of the IPC against the petitioner and his parents but the proceedings in the criminal complaint, as well as the case under Section 498A of the IPC, were stayed by the Allahabad High Court.

Analysis and Decision

Petitioner’s counsel drew the Court’s attention to Sections 190, 191 and 191A of the Air Force Act, 1950 empowering the Central Government to make regulations for all or any of the purposes of the Act other than those specified in Section 189 and requiring the regulations so made to be published in the Gazette and to be laid before the Parliament.

Section 91(i), in exercise of powers whereunder the impugned AFO No. 03/2013 has been issued, shows the same as authorising deduction from pay and allowances of an officer of any sum required by order of the Central Government to be paid for the maintenance of his wife or his legitimate or illegitimate child or towards the cost of any relief given by the said Government to the said wife or child.

Petitioner being a sergeant, the above-stated section would not apply to him.

Section 92(i) authorises deduction from the pay and allowances of an airman, of any sum required by order of the Central Government or any prescribed officer to be paid for the maintenance of his wife or his legitimate or illegitimate child or towards the cost of any relief given by the said Government to the said wife or child.

The Court opined that once (a) there is a specific provision in the Air Force Act i.e. in Sections 91(i) and 92(i) thereof and to which there is no challenge, qua deduction from the pay and allowances, for payment of maintenance; (b) Rule 162, to which also there is no challenge, defines the ‘prescribed officer’ within the meaning of Section 92(i); and, (c) the Air Force Regulations in Regulation 917, to which also there is no challenge, provides that Air Force orders will be issued by the Chief of Air Staff, the impugned order has been issued in compliance of all the said provisions and there was no the need for the said order to be laid before the Parliament or to be notified/ratified इन accordance with Sections 190, 191 and 191A of the Act.

Just like the Courts draw their power to pass orders/decrees for payment of maintenance, from the statutes mentioned hereinabove, so does the Central Government and/or the prescribed officer draw power to award maintenance to wife and children of Air Force personnel from the provisions of the Air Force Act.

Next plea in the petition that was considered was, of the Air Force personnel being discriminated against vis-a-vis civilians, orders for payment of maintenance to wife and children whereagainst can be passed only by the Courts and not by the Central Government or the prescribed officer.

Regarding this, the Bench observed that:

Certainly it is not open to Air Force personnel, to have the privileges not available to civilians and reject the obligations, also not imposed on the civilians. The counsel for the petitioner also forgets that while the civilians can be punished only by the Courts of the land, the Air Force personnel can be tried and punished also by the Authorities under the Air Force Act. What is evident therefrom is, that personnel of the Air Force, form a class by themselves, distinct from the civilians.

Additional observations of the Court:

Sections 16 and 17 of the Air Force Act provides for all persons, enrolled as combatants, selected to hold a non- commissioned rank and subject to the Air Force Act, to be attested and which attestation is in the form of administration of oath containing a promise inter alia to obey all commands of any officer set over him, even to the peril of his life.

The said oath taken by the defence personnel, to the said extent is different from the oath required to be taken vide Articles 60, 69, 124 and 219 of the Constitution of India by the President, Vice-President, Judges of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the High Courts respectively, none of whom swear to place their life at peril for the service of the country.

Bench found no merit in the challenge by petitioner to AFO No. 3 of 2013. The said AFO did not make any legislative change and only guided the exercise of discretion and power vested by Sections 91(i) and 92(i) in the Central Government and the prescribed officer to make deductions from the salary and allowance for payment of maintenance to wife and children.

In Suneel v. Union of India 2003 SCC OnLine Del 810, question in the context of Army Act was considered and it was held that in view of the statutory provisions, the Authorities under the Army Act could not be debarred from making an order of maintenance in favour of wife and children of an Army personnel.[Sergeant Ajit Kumar Shukla v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Del 1590, decided on 10-11-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: The Division Bench of J.B. Pardiwala and Vireshkumar B. Mayani, JJ., while addressing the issue of grant of permanent alimony to a Muslim Woman noted the significant difference between permanent alimony and periodical maintenance.

An instant appeal under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 was filed at the instance of the original defendant (husband) and was directed against the judgment and decree passed by Principal Judge, Ahemdabad for a decree of divorce under the provisions of Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Question for consideration:

Whether the Family Court committed any error in passing the order of permanent alimony in favour of the wife while granting the decree of divorce to the wife?

There are two types of alimony:

1. Given at the time of court proceedings- This is usually the maintenance amount.

2. Given at the time of legal separation- This can be given either in a lump sum or as a fixed monthly or quarterly payment or as per the requirements of the spouse.

Supreme Court on a creative and meaningful interpretation of the MWPRDA, 1986, upheld its constitutionality. It held that a Muslim husband is liable to make reasonable and fair provision for the future of his divorced wife extending beyond the Iddat period.

In the Supreme Court decision of Shabana Bano v. Imran Khan, (2010) 1 SCC 666, the question that fell for consideration was whether a Muslim Divorced wife would be entitled to receive the amount of maintenance from her divorced husband under Section 125 CrPC, and if yes, then through which forum.

In the above decision of the Supreme Court, it was held that petition under Section 125 CrPC would be maintainable before the family court as long as the wife does not remarry. The amount of maintenance to be awarded under Section 125 of the CrPC cannot be restricted for the Iddat period only.

Main Argument

The most significant submission on behalf of the appellant was that no provision exists in the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 for the maintenance or permanent alimony. Further, it was stated that Family Court had no jurisdiction to pass any order with respect to maintenance or permanent alimony once the suit is allowed and the marriage is dissolved at the instance of the wife.

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

The Muslim Women Act is “to protect the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by or have obtained a divorce from their husbands and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Hence the Muslim Women Act professes to deal with Muslim divorced women and their rights against their former husbands.

Family Court

Bench observed that, where a Family Court has been established, the power and the jurisdiction of the Family Court under Section 7(2) of the Family Courts Act, 1984 to entertain an application for maintenance, even by a divorced Muslim wife, under Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure has not been taken away, either expressly or even by implication by the Muslim Women Act of 1986.

And once such an application is made to a Family Court under Section 7(2) of the Family Courts Act, and not to a Magistrate, the same has got to be disposed of by the Family Court in accordance with the provisions of Chapter IX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Muslim Women Act of 1986, including its Section 5, would have no manner of application.

Matrimonial Property

Further, it was stated that the right to maintenance and right in the matrimonial property are the consequences of the marriage or its dissolution. Those reliefs are incidental to the main relief of ‘dissolution of marriage’ and therefore, these reliefs are very much an integral part of the decree of ‘dissolution of marriage’.

Section 4 of the Act, 1986

It was also sought to be argued on behalf of the appellant that in view of Section 4 of the Act, 1986, the former husband had no liability to make any provision for the Post-Iddat period.

Bench observed that the right of maintenance given to the wife and the minor children under the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, is in addition to the right, which the minor children are having under Muslim Law to get maintenance from the father. The law expects that the parties should not be driven to approach the different forums but in one forum itself, they should be granted whatever reliefs to which they are entitled.

Supreme Court in the decision of K.A. Abdul Jaleel v. Shahida, (2003) 4 SCC 166 was concerned with the provisions of Section 7 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 as to whether the Family Court had the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon any question relating to the properties of the parties not only of the subsisting marriage but also divorced parties and the Supreme Court was pleased to hold that the reason for the enactment of the Family Courts Act, 1984, was to set up a Court to deal with all the disputes concerning with the Family and it is now a well-settled principle of law that the jurisdiction of a Court created specifically for the resolution of disputes of certain kinds should be construed liberally.

Wife has remarried

Counsel submitted that the wife was remarried and in view of there was no question of any lump sum permanent alimony.

Bench observed that

A divorced Muslim woman is entitled to receive, from her husband, inter alia, “maintenance”, “reasonable and fair provision”, “Mahr” etc. under Section 3 of the Act, 1986.

Permanent Alimony

Bench stated that what is significant to note is that the relief of permanent alimony is a relief incidental to the granting of the substantive relief by the Court in the main proceeding. It is an incidental relief claimed in the main proceeding, though an application is necessary for claiming it.

The Supreme Court had the occasion to consider the question whether a Muslim woman obtaining a divorce under the provisions of the Act, 1939 is entitled to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, and it was held in Zohara Khatoon v. Mohd. Ibrahim, (1981) 2 SCC 509 that there are three distinct modes in which a dissolution of marriage can be brought about and Clause(b) of the Explanation to Section 125(1) envisages all the three modes, whether a wife is divorced unilaterally by the husband or where she obtains divorce under the other two modes, she continues to be a wife for the purpose of getting maintenance under Section 125 of the Code.

The Supreme Court held that divorce resulting from the dissolution of marriage under the provision of Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 is also a legal divorce under the Mohammedan law by virtue of the Statute (1939 Act).

Conclusion

Bench observed that when the Court would make an award of permanent alimony or for one-time payment, it is not founded on any stipulation that any part of the sum would be either actually refunded in whole or in part. Such sum is not granted on the condition against remarriage for all times to or for any particular period.

The permanent alimony in a way is an estimated sum in a lump sum to discharge the judgment debtor from his future liabilities unconditionally.

The grant of periodical payment by way of maintenance to a divorced wife is in recognition/obligation to the spouse to maintain her so long as she enjoys the continued status of a divorcee.

On remarriage status of divorcee comes to an end and she acquires another marital status as someone’s spouse. Under the Act, 1986 as under Section 125 CrPC, the wife includes a divorcee.

In view of the above discussion, it can be said that:

when the wife remarries, her claim of maintenance primarily comes to stand against her new husband coming into existence in a new relationship.

The proposition of law laid down by the Court should be looked into keeping in mind Section 3(1)(a) of the Act, 1986.

A divorced woman is entitled to ‘a reasonable and fair provision” and “maintenance” to be made and paid to her within and post the Iddat period by her former husband.

Point-wise Conclusion of the decision:

  • After the Act of 1939, a wife had a statutory right to obtain a divorce from her husband through the Court on proof of the grounds mentioned in the Act.
  • The ex-wife, having obtained a divorce from her erstwhile husband under the provisions of the Act, 1939 is entitled to the reasonable and fair provision under Section 3 of the Act, 1986.
  • The Family Courts Act has in its comprehension all community including the Muslims. All disputes between the Muslim community within the purview of the Family Courts Act are to be settled by the Family Courts.
  • Dispute contemplated by Section 3 of the Act, 1986 is within the purview and four corners of the Family Courts Act as the dispute under Section 3 of the Act, 1986 also relates to matrimonial relations between the parties.
  • Right of maintenance and right in the matrimonial property are the consequences of the marriage or its dissolution.
  • The Law contemplates that the husband has two separate and distinct obligations; (I) to make “reasonable and fair provision” for his divorcee wife and (ii) to provide “maintenance” for her. The obligation to make a reasonable and fair provision for the divorced wife is not restricted until the divorced wife remarries. It is within the jurisdiction of the Family Court to pass an order for a lump sum amount to be paid to the wife in the discharge of the obligation of the husband under Section 3(1)(a) of the Act, 1986 and such order cannot be modified upon remarriage of the divorced Muslim wife.
  • Provision for permanent alimony is incidental to the granting of a decree or judicial separation, divorce or annulment of marriage.
  • The permanent alimony in a way is an estimated sum in a lump sum to discharge the husband from her future liabilities unconditionally.
  • If the wife gets remarried, her status of divorcee comes to an end and the liability of the husband to pay periodical maintenance would also come to an end.

Another significant observation of the High Court was which was placed by the counsel for the parties was that the appellant had remarried way back in the year 2014. Before the respondent herein instituted the proceedings in the Family Court for divorce, the husband had already remarried and raised a family. The appellant could do so because polygamy is permissible amongst the Muslim Community. It does not constitute an offence of bigamy punishable under Section 494 of the Penal Code.

The materials on record indicated that the husband hardly paid anything towards maintenance. The respondent had to leave her matrimonial home soon after the marriage, i.e., sometime in 2010. Ultimately, she was constrained to institute the proceedings of divorce in the Family Court. Even during the pendency of such proceedings, nothing was paid to the wife. The wife, ultimately, succeeded before the Family Court in getting the marriage dissolved and was also successful in getting an order of permanent alimony. The husband now cannot turn around and say that he is not liable to pay the lump sum amount because the respondent is remarried.

Hence, in Court opinion, the Family Court’s line of reasoning ad the ultimate conclusion that was drawn by the family court was just and proper.

Therefore the appeal was dismissed.[Tarif Rashidbhai Qureshi v. Asmabanu, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 711, decided on 19-03-2020]


Advocates who appeared for the parties:

Nishant Lalakita for Appellant 1

Javed S Qureshi for Appellant 1

SP Majmudar for Defendant 1

Shashvata U Shukla for Defendant 1

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., addressed a matter wherein the question was considered whether an application under Section 125 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 after having secured interim maintenance by an order passed in proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act is maintainable?

The instant petition impugned Family Court’s order whereby the petitioner’s application for interim maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 was rejected.

The said impugned order by the Family Court indicated that the petitioner’s application was rejected on the ground that the petitioners had been granted interim maintenance of Rs 4,000 per month in proceedings filed under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Court held that since the petitioners had been awarded interim maintenance for the same period and no appeal had been preferred against the said interim order, an application under Section 125 CrPC for seeking interim maintenance for the same period was not maintainable.

Family Court also added that it was not open for the petitioners to claim maintenance from two different courts in different proceedings for the same period. And, in the event the petitioners were of the view that the amount of interim maintenance granted was insufficient, the appropriate remedy would be to approach the concerned court for modification or enhancement of the interim maintenance.

Petitioner counsel, Dr Amit George contended that the family court’s reasoning was erroneous.

In view of the above-said position, the question to be considered by the bench is as follows:

Whether it is open for the petitioners to maintain an application under Section 125 CrPC after having secured interim maintenance by an order passed in proceedings under the DV Act?

Bench found merit in petitioner counsel’s contention with regard to the Family Court’s order being erroneous.

The question whether an application for interim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC could be maintained for the same period for which interim maintenance has been awarded under the DV Act, is no longer res integra.

In Delhi High Court’s decision of R.D. v. B.D., 2019 SCC OnLine Del 9526 it was held that an order for interim maintenance granted under the DV Act does not preclude an applicant to claim maintenance for the same period in separate proceedings.

Court observed that although a separate application seeking interim maintenance for the same period is maintainable, the Court would of necessarily bear in mind the interim maintenance awarded in the other proceedings while considering the merits of the application.

The above-stated similar view was expressed in the Judgment of Niharika Yadav v. Manish Kumar Yadav, Crl. Rev. P. 755 of 2018, decided on 18-12-2019.

Therefore, the impugned order was set aside and the matter was remanded to the family court to consider the petitioner’s application for interim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.[Rani v. Dinesh, Crl. Rev. P. 1091 of 2019 and Crl. M.A 13677 of 2020, decided on 02-12-2020]


Advocates who appeared in the matter:

Petitioners: Dr Amit George, Anmol Acharya, Piyo Hardo Jaimon, Rayadurgam, Bharat, Advocates.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., while setting aside the orders pronounced by the Courts below observed that,

“the law already gives a remedy to claim maintenance to a daughter under the provisions of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act even if she is a major by age and unmarried and dependent on her father.”

The instant application was moved by the applicant–father under the provision of Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 questioning the Judicial Magistrate’s Order allowing interim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

Applicant’s Counsel, Runwal invited the Court’s attention to Section 125 of CrPC, particularly clause (b) & (c) of sub-section 1.

According to the counsel, the father has an obligation to maintain the daughter who is not married, however, the said provision does not confer any right in major daughter to claim an interim after such daughter attains majority and if she is physically or mentally not suffering from any abnormality or injury.

Court’s attention to the provisions of Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act was also invited. Further, he relied on the decision of Supreme Court in Abhilasha v. Prakash, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 736.

Respondent — Daughter urged that the act of trial court of not deciding the application for maintenance for years together cannot be viewed or come to the help of the applicant particularly when Statute contemplates an obligation on the applicant-father to pay maintenance to a minor daughter pursuant to the provisions of Section 125(1) of CrPC.

Analysis and Decision

If the scheme of clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 125 of CrPC is considered, what is appreciated is, legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority who by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, if unable to maintain herself, can claim maintenance from father or a person who has sufficient means and who has neglected or refused to maintain.

What is required to be appreciated in the instant case is that even if the respondent — daughter who has attained majority and she is already getting expenses as was ordered in proceedings under the Hindu Marriage Act and interim maintenance.

In accordance with the Supreme Court decision in Abhilasha v. Prakash, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 736, it was made clear that under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, right of an unmarried daughter to claim maintenance from her father when she is unable to maintain herself is absolute. Such right is granted under the personal law which such daughter has every right in law to enforce against her father. As such, right under Sub-section 3 of Section 20 of the said provisions is recognized to be existing to claim maintenance after she attains majority till her marriage, from her father.

“Unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father till she is married even though she has become major which right is recognized under Section 20 (3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.”

Court stated that a daughter can claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act even if she is major by age and unmarried and dependent on her father.

Magistrate failed to appreciate the above-stated intricacies of the provisions of Section 125(1)(c) of CrPC and right of a daughter under Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.

Further, the Bench observed that the Courts below committed an error in awarding interim maintenance to major daughter in the exercise of powers under Section 125 CrPC.

Hence, in view of the above, the present application needs to be allowed.[Sanjay J. Phagnekar v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 3382, decided on 23-11-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Jyoti Mulmani J., allowed the revision petition on grounds of failure to ascertain and understand the material propositions involved in the case.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner is a legally wedded wife of respondent and their marriage was solemnized on 28-02-2007 at Gayathri Mangalya Mandira, B.H. Road, Shimoga as per the Hindu Rites and Customs. They lived blissfully for some time however was constrained to leave apart from respondent after some time. Thereafter she filed a petition under Sections 18, 20 and 22 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which was thereby allowed and compensation granted. Aggrieved by which, appeal was preferred by both parties which was clubbed and the impugned order upheld. Later, a petition as filed under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which was dismissed as non-maintainable. Aggrieved by this order, present revision petition has been filed challenging the impugned order.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the order suffers from serious infirmities and is liable to be set aside as the ground for rejection of the petition that the petitioner had filed petition under provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence act, 2005 and thus petitioners cannot file another petition under Section 125 CrPC is wholly unsuitable in law.

Counsel for the respondents submitted that the impugned order has reached finality as petitioners have not preferred a further appeal before any other courts.

The Court observed that the petitioner filed a petition under Section 125 Cr.PC and not under Section 127 of the Code. There has been an error in the impugned order in not appreciating the distinction between the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act and Cr. PC as the petitioner is not seeking enhancement of maintenance.

The Court before disposing off the petition remanded the matter to reconsider the application filed by petitioner under Section 125 CrPC.

In view of the above, the impugned order was set aside.[D.A. Divya v. M. Yashwanth, R.P.F.C. No. 63 of 2016, decided on 02-11-2020]


 Arunima Bose, Editorial  Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of A.M. Shaffique and Mary Joseph, JJ., upheld the Family Court’s decision wherein the wife obtained the consent of husband by fraud.

Husband in the original petition sought a perpetual injunction restraining respondents and their men from trespassing into the petition schedule property and general damages for loss suffered.

Marriage | Null & Void

Another petition by the husband was filed seeking to declare the marriage between himself and respondent null and void for the reason that it was not consummated due to the heart ailment of the wife, suppressing which factum the consent for marriage was obtained

Another petition was filed by the wife seeking to get back money and gold ornaments given to her at the time of marriage, taken custody of and misappropriated by her husband.

Wife had also sought monthly maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Husband’s petitions were allowed and marriage was declared null and void with a direction to pay damages, whereas the petitions filed by the wife seeking maintenance and return of gold were dismissed.

Aggrieved by the orders issued, the wife preferred the appeals as stated above.

Analysis and Decision

Suppressing Material Factum | Foul Play and Fraud

Bench stated that it is constrained to take a view that without revealing the cardiac ailments the wife had, the consent of the husband for marriage was obtained and suppressing of a material factum is undoubtedly a foul play and nothing short of fraud.

Consent of the husband for the marriage was obtained by playing fraud on him.

Hence Court found no fault in the family court’s decision in granting a decree declaring the marriage as null and void on the strength of the evidence already discussed with.

With regard to the damages being allowed to the husband, Court stated that as discussed above, husband had every reason for the claim made to succeed.

Family Court declined the wife for getting back the money and gold ornaments given to the husband at the time of marriage.

Bench stated that after scrutiny of Ext.A6 it was of a view that all articles belonging to the wife were already received by her from the husband.

With regard to the maintenance being denied by the Family Court, the bench observed that since the marriage was declared as null and void, the lady cannot claim the status of a wife so as to be entitled to raise a claim for maintenance.

The arguments advanced by the wife to get a reversal of the impugned common order being untenable ones, bench discarded those. [Ajitha v. Harshan, Mat. Appeal No. 734 of 2012, decided on 25-09-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

[Note: This report is a detailed analysis of Supreme Court’s judgment in Rajnesh v. Neha*. To read the guidelines and directions issued by the Court, click here.]

Supreme Court: The bench of Indu Malhotra** and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has framed guidelines on the issue of maintenance of wife, covering overlapping jurisdiction under different enactments for payment of maintenance, payment of Interim Maintenance, the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance.

The directions came in a case which revealed that the application for interim maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. has remained pending before the Courts for seven years now, and there have been difficulties encountered in the enforcement of orders passed by the Courts, as the wife was constrained to move successive applications for enforcement from time to time.


Legislations dealing with the issue of maintenance


The legislations which have been framed on the issue of maintenance are the Special Marriage Act, 1954, Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. ,1973; and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which provide a statutory remedy to women, irrespective of the religious community to which they belong, apart from the personal laws applicable to various religious communities. Further, a Hindu wife may claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956 , and also in a substantive proceeding for either dissolution of marriage, or restitution of conjugal rights, etc. under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by invoking Sections 24 and 25 of the said Act.

The different enactments provide an independent and distinct remedy framed with a specific object and purpose. In spite of time frames being prescribed by various statutes for disposal of interim applications, in practice that in a vast majority of cases, the applications are not disposed of within the time frame prescribed.

Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • Section 36 of this secular legislation, applicable to all persons who solemnize their marriage in India, provides that a wife is entitled to claim pendente lite maintenance, if she does not have sufficient independent income to support her and for legal expenses. The maintenance may be granted on a weekly or monthly basis during the pendency of the matrimonial proceedings. The Court would determine the quantum of maintenance depending on the income of the husband, and award such amount as may seem reasonable.
  • Section 37 provides for grant of permanent alimony at the time of passing of the decree, or subsequent thereto. Permanent alimony is the consolidated payment made by the husband to the wife towards her maintenance for life.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • Sections 24 and 25 make provision for 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 prerequisite is that the applicant does not have independent income which is sufficient for her or his support, during the pendency of the lis.
  • Section 24 of the HMA provides for maintenance pendente lite, where the Court may direct the respondent to pay the expenses of the proceeding, and pay such reasonable monthly amount, which is considered to be reasonable, having regard to the income of both the parties. The proviso to Section 24 providing a time line of 60 days for disposal of the application was inserted vide Act 49 of 2001 w.e.f. 24.09.2001.
  • Section 26 of the HMA provides that the Court may from time to time pass interim orders with respect to the custody, maintenance and education of the minor children.

Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956

HAMA is a special legislation which was enacted to amend and codify the laws relating to adoption and maintenance amongst Hindus, during the subsistence of the marriage.

Section 18 provides that a Hindu wife shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime. She is entitled to make a claim for a separate residence, without forfeiting her right to maintenance. Section 18 read in conjunction with Section 23 states the factors required to be considered for deciding the quantum of maintenance to be paid. Under sub-section (2) of Section 18, the husband has the obligation to maintain his wife, even though she may be living separately. The right of separate residence and maintenance would however not be available if the wife has been unchaste, or has converted to another religion.

Distinction between maintenance under HMA and HAMA

  • The right under Section 18 of HAMA is available during the subsistence of a marriage, without any matrimonial proceeding pending between the parties. Once there is a divorce, the wife has to seek relief under Section 25 of HMA.
  • Under HMA, either the wife, or the husband, may move for judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights, dissolution of marriage, payment of interim maintenance under Section 24, and permanent alimony under Section 25 of the Act, whereas under Section 18 of HAMA, only a wife may seek maintenance.

Section 125 of the Cr.P.C

The purpose and object of Section 125 Cr.P.C. is to provide immediate relief to an applicant. An application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. is predicated on two conditions :

  • the husband has sufficient means; and
  • “neglects” to maintain his wife, who is unable to maintain herself.

In such a case, the husband may be directed by the Magistrate to pay such monthly sum to the wife, as deemed fit. Maintenance is awarded on the basis of the financial capacity of the husband and other relevant factors.

Under sub-section (2) of Section 125, the Court is conferred with the discretion to award payment of maintenance either from the date of the order, or from the date of the application.

Under the third proviso to the amended Section 125, the application for grant of interim maintenance must be disposed of as far as possible within sixty days’ from the date of service of notice on the respondent.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The D.V. Act provides relief to an aggrieved woman who is subjected to “domestic violence.”

1.Sections 17 and 19 grant an entitlement in favour of an aggrieved woman to the right of residence in a “shared household”, irrespective of her having any legal interest in the same or not. From the definition of “aggrieved person” and “respondent”, it is clear that :

(a) it is not the requirement of law that the aggrieved person may either own the premises jointly or singly, or by tenanting it jointly or singly;

(b) the household may belong to a joint family of which the respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title, or interest in the shared household; 24

(c) the shared household may either be owned, or tenanted by the respondent singly or jointly.

2. The right to residence u/S. 19 is, however, not an indefeasible right, especially when a daughter-in-law is claiming a right against aged parents-in-law. While granting relief u/S. 12 of the D.V. Act, or in any civil proceeding, the court has to balance the rights between the aggrieved woman and the parents-in-law.

3. Section 20(1)(d) provides that maintenance granted under the D.V. Act to an aggrieved woman and children, would be given effect to, in addition to an order of maintenance awarded under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C., or any other law in force.

4. Under sub-section (6) of Section 20, the Magistrate may direct the employer or debtor of the respondent, to directly pay the aggrieved person, or deposit with the court a portion of the wages or salaries or debt due to or accrued to the credit of the respondent, which amount may be adjusted towards the monetary relief payable by the respondent.

5. Section 22 provides that the Magistrate may pass an order directing the respondent to pay compensation and damages for the injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress, caused by the acts of domestic violence perpetrated by the respondent.

6. Section 26 of the D.V. Act provides that any relief available under Sections 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 may also be sought in any legal proceeding before a Civil Court, Family Court or Criminal Court.

7. Section 36 provides that the D.V. Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.


Analysis of the issues


(a)Issue of overlapping jurisdiction

The Court noticed that while it is true that a party is not precluded from approaching the Court under one or more enactments, since the nature and purpose of the relief under each Act is distinct and independent, it is equally true that the simultaneous operation of these Acts, would lead to multiplicity of proceedings and conflicting orders. This process requires to be streamlined, so that the respondent/husband is not obligated to comply with successive orders of maintenance passed under different enactments.

“It is well settled that a wife can make a claim for maintenance under different statutes. For instance, there is no bar to seek maintenance both under the D.V. Act and Section 125 of the Cr.P.C., or under H.M.A. It would, however, be inequitable to direct the husband to pay maintenance under each of the proceedings, independent of the relief granted in a previous proceeding.”

The Court, hence, directed that in a subsequent maintenance proceeding, the applicant shall disclose the previous maintenance proceeding, and the orders passed therein, so that the Court would take into consideration the maintenance already awarded in the previous proceeding, and grant an adjustment or set-off of the said amount. If the order passed in the previous proceeding requires any modification or variation, the party would be required to move the concerned court in the previous proceeding.

[Read detailed guidelines and directions here]

(b) Payment of Interim Maintenance

At present, the issue of interim maintenance is decided on the basis of pleadings, where some amount of guess-work or rough estimation takes place, so as to make a prima facie assessment of the amount to be awarded. It is often seen that both parties submit scanty material, do not disclose the correct details, and suppress vital information, which makes it difficult for the Family Courts to make an objective assessment for grant of interim maintenance.

“While there is a tendency on the part of the wife to exaggerate her needs, there is a corresponding tendency by the husband to conceal his actual income.”

It was hence directed that the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country.

Apart from this the Court also directed that in the first instance, the Family Court in compliance with the mandate of Section 9 of the Family Courts Act 1984, must make an endeavour for settlement of the disputes.

For this, Section 6 provides that the State Government shall, in consultation with the High Court, make provision for counsellors to assist a Family Court in the discharge of its functions. Given the large and growing percentage of matrimonial litigation, it has become necessary that the provisions of Section 5 and 6 of the Family Courts Act are given effect to, by providing for the appointment of marriage counsellors in every Family Court, which would help in the process of settlement. If the proceedings for settlement are unsuccessful, the Family Court would proceed with the matter on merits.

[Read detailed guidelines and directions here]

(c) Criteria for determining quantum of maintenance

The objective of granting interim / permanent alimony is to ensure that the dependant spouse is not reduced to destitution or vagrancy on account of the failure of the marriage, and not as a punishment to the other spouse. There is no straitjacket formula for fixing the quantum of maintenance to be awarded.

“The maintenance amount awarded must be reasonable and realistic, and avoid either of the two extremes i.e. maintenance awarded to the wife should neither be so extravagant which becomes oppressive and unbearable for the respondent, nor should it be so meagre that it drives the wife to penury. The sufficiency of the quantum has to be adjudged so that the wife is able to maintain herself with reasonable comfort.”

For determining the quantum of maintenance payable to an applicant, the factors which would weigh with the Court inter alia are

  • the status of the parties; reasonable needs of the wife and dependant children; whether the applicant is educated and professionally qualified; whether the applicant has any independent source of income; whether the income is sufficient to enable her to maintain the same standard of living as she was accustomed to in her matrimonial home; whether the applicant was employed prior to her marriage; whether she was working during the subsistence of the marriage; etc.
  • the financial capacity of the husband, his actual income, reasonable expenses for his own maintenance, and dependant family members whom he is obliged to maintain under the law, liabilities if any, would be required to be taken into consideration, to arrive at the appropriate quantum of maintenance to be paid. The Court must have due regard to the standard of living of the husband, as well as the spiralling inflation rates and high costs of living.
  • On termination of the relationship, if the wife is educated and professionally qualified, but had to give up her employment opportunities to look after the needs of the family being the primary caregiver to the minor children, and the elder members of the family, this factor would be required to be given due importance. With advancement of age, it would be difficult for a dependant wife to get an easy entry into the work-force after a break of several years as she would be required to undergo fresh training to acquire marketable skills and re-train herself to secure a job.
  • In case where the wife is working, it cannot operate as a bar from being awarded maintenance by the husband. The onus is on the husband to establish with necessary material that there are sufficient grounds to show that he is unable to maintain the family, and discharge his legal obligations for reasons beyond his control. If the husband does not disclose the exact amount of his income, an adverse inference may be drawn by the Court.
  • The living expenses of the child would include expenses for food, clothing, residence, medical expenses, education of children. Extra coaching classes or any other vocational training courses to complement the basic education must be factored in, while awarding child support. Albeit, it should be a reasonable amount to be awarded for extra-curricular/coaching classes, and not an overly extravagant amount which may be claimed.

“Education expenses of the children must be normally borne by the father. If the wife is working and earning sufficiently, the expenses may be shared proportionately between the parties.”

  • Serious disability or ill health of a spouse, child / children from the marriage / dependant relative who require constant care and recurrent expenditure, would also be a relevant consideration while quantifying maintenance

The aforesaid factors are however not exhaustive, and the concerned Court may exercise its discretion to consider any other factor/s which may be necessary or of relevance in the facts and circumstances of a case.

[Read detailed guidelines and directions here]

(d) Date from which maintenance is to be awarded

Even though a judicial discretion is conferred upon the Court to grant maintenance either from the date of application or from the date of the order in S. 125(2) Cr.P.C., it would be appropriate to grant maintenance from the date of application in all cases, including Section 125 Cr.P.C. In the practical working of the provisions relating to maintenance, there is significant delay in disposal of the applications for interim maintenance for years on end. It would therefore be in the interests of justice and fair play that maintenance is awarded from the date of the application.

The rationale of granting maintenance from the date of application finds its roots in the object of enacting maintenance legislations, so as to enable the wife to overcome the financial crunch which occurs on separation from the husband. Financial constraints of a dependant spouse hampers their capacity to be effectively represented before the Court. In order to prevent a dependant from being reduced to destitution, it is necessary that maintenance is awarded from the date on which the application for maintenance is filed before the concerned Court.

[Read detailed guidelines and directions here]

(e) Enforcement of orders of maintenance

Enforcement of the order of maintenance is the most challenging issue, which is encountered by the applicants. If maintenance is not paid in a timely manner, it defeats the very object of the social welfare legislation. Execution petitions usually remain pending for months, if not years, which completely nullifies the object of the law.

An application for execution of an Order of Maintenance can be filed under the following provisions :

(a) Section 28 A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 r.w. Section 18 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 and Order XXI Rule 94 of the CPC for executing an Order passed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act (before the Family Court);

(b) Section 20(6) of the DV Act (before the Judicial Magistrate); and

(c) Section 128 of Cr.P.C. before the Magistrate’s Court.

Section 18 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 provides that orders passed by the Family Court shall be executable in accordance with the CPC / Cr.P.C.

Section 125(3) of the Cr.P.C provides that if the party against whom the order of maintenance is passed fails to comply with the order of maintenance, the same shall be recovered in the manner as provided for fines, and the Magistrate may award sentence of imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month, or until payment, whichever is earlier

Some Family Courts, however, have passed orders for striking off the defence of the respondent in case of non-payment of maintenance, so as to facilitate speedy disposal of the maintenance petition.

The Court, however, was of the opinion that striking off the defence of the respondent is an order which ought to be passed in the last resort, if the Courts find default to be wilful and contumacious, particularly to a dependant unemployed wife, and minor children. Contempt proceedings for wilful disobedience may be initiated before the appropriate Court.

Hence, it was directed that the order or decree of maintenance may be enforced like a decree of a civil court, through the provisions which are available for enforcing a money decree, including civil detention, attachment of property, etc. as provided by various provisions of the CPC, more particularly Sections 51, 55, 58, 60 read with Order XXI.

[Read detailed guidelines and directions here]

[Rajnesh v. Neha,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 903, decided on 04.11.2020]


*CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 730 OF 2020

**Justice Indu Malhotra has penned this judgment

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Indu Malhotra* and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has framed guidelines on the issue of maintenance of wife, covering overlapping jurisdiction under different enactments for payment of maintenance, payment of Interim Maintenance, the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance.

The directions came in a case which revealed that the application for interim maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. has remained pending before the Courts for seven years now, and there have been difficulties encountered in the enforcement of orders passed by the Courts, as the wife was constrained to move successive applications for enforcement from time to time.


Legislations dealing with the issue of maintenance


The legislations which have been framed on the issue of maintenance are the Special Marriage Act, 1954, Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. ,1973; and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which provide a statutory remedy to women, irrespective of the religious community to which they belong, apart from the personal laws applicable to various religious communities. Further, a Hindu wife may claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956 , and also in a substantive proceeding for either dissolution of marriage, or restitution of conjugal rights, etc. under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by invoking Sections 24 and 25 of the said Act.

The different enactments provide an independent and distinct remedy framed with a specific object and purpose. In spite of time frames being prescribed by various statutes for disposal of interim applications, in practice that in a vast majority of cases, the applications are not disposed of within the time frame prescribed.


Guidelines and Directions 


(a)Issue of overlapping jurisdiction

To overcome the issue of overlapping jurisdiction, and avoid conflicting orders being passed in different proceedings, the Court issued the following directions in order to ensure uniformity in the practice followed by the Family Courts/District Courts/Magistrate Courts throughout the country:

(i) where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the Court would consider an adjustment or setoff, of the amount awarded in the previous proceeding/s, while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding;

(ii) it is made mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding;

(iii) if the order passed in the previous proceeding/s requires any modification or variation, it would be required to be done in the same proceeding.

(b) Payment of Maintenance

Interim Maintenance

(a) the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country.

[Note: The judgment has the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities annexed as Enclosures I, II and III.]

(b) The applicant making the claim for maintenance will be required to file a concise application accompanied with the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets;

(c) The respondent must submit the reply alongwith the Affidavit of Disclosure within a maximum period of four weeks.

  • The Courts may not grant more than two opportunities for submission of the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities to the respondent.
  • If the respondent delays in filing the reply with the Affidavit, and seeks more than two adjournments for this purpose, the Court may consider exercising the power to strike off the defence of the respondent, if the conduct is found to be wilful and contumacious in delaying the proceedings.
  • On the failure to file the Affidavit within the prescribed time, the Family Court may proceed to decide the application for maintenance on basis of the Affidavit filed by the applicant and the pleadings on record;

(d) The above format may be modified by the concerned Court, if the exigencies of a case require the same. It would be left to the judicial discretion of the concerned Court, to issue necessary directions in this regard.

(e) If apart from the information contained in the Affidavits of Disclosure, any further information is required, the concerned Court may pass appropriate orders in respect thereof.

(f) If there is any dispute with respect to the declaration made in the Affidavit of Disclosure, the aggrieved party may seek permission of the Court to serve interrogatories, and seek production of relevant documents from the opposite party under Order XI of the CPC. On filing of the Affidavit, the Court may invoke the provisions of Order X of the C.P.C or Section 165 of the Evidence Act 1872, if it considers it necessary to do so.

The income of one party is often not within the knowledge of the other spouse. Hence, the Court may invoke Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872 if necessary, since the income, assets and liabilities of the spouse are within the personal knowledge of the party concerned.

(g) If during the course of proceedings, there is a change in the financial status of any party, or there is a change of any relevant circumstances, or if some new information comes to light, the party may submit an amended / supplementary affidavit, which would be considered by the court at the time of final determination.

(h) The pleadings made in the applications for maintenance and replies filed should be responsible pleadings; if false statements and misrepresentations are made, the Court may consider initiation of proceeding u/S. 340 Cr.P.C., and for contempt of Court.

(i) In case the parties belong to the Economically Weaker Sections (“EWS”), or are living Below the Poverty Line (“BPL”), or are casual labourers, the requirement of filing the Affidavit would be dispensed with.

(j) The concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrate’s Court must make an endeavour to decide the I.A. for Interim Maintenance by a reasoned 37 order, within a period of four to six months at the latest, after the Affidavits of Disclosure have been filed before the court.

(k) A professional Marriage Counsellor must be made available in every Family Court

Permanent alimony

(i)Parties may lead oral and documentary evidence with respect to income, expenditure, standard of living, etc. before the concerned Court, for fixing the permanent alimony payable to the spouse.

(ii) In contemporary society, where several marriages do not last for a reasonable length of time, it may be inequitable to direct the contesting spouse to pay permanent alimony to the applicant for the rest of her life. The duration of the marriage would be a relevant factor to be taken into consideration for determining the permanent alimony to be paid.

(iii) Provision for grant of reasonable expenses for the marriage of children must be made at the time of determining permanent alimony, where the custody is with the wife. The expenses would be determined by taking into account the financial position of the husband and the customs of the family.

(iv) If there are any trust funds / investments created by any spouse / grandparents in favour of the children, this would also be taken into consideration while deciding the final child support.

(c) Criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance

For determining the quantum of maintenance payable to an applicant, the factors which would weigh with the Court inter alia are the status of the parties; reasonable needs of the wife and dependant children; whether the applicant is educated and professionally qualified; whether the applicant has any independent source of income; whether the income is sufficient to enable her to maintain the same standard of living as she was accustomed to in her matrimonial home; whether the applicant was employed prior to her marriage; whether she was working during the subsistence of the marriage; whether the wife was required to sacrifice her employment opportunities for nurturing the family, child rearing, and looking after adult members of the family; reasonable costs of litigation for a non-working wife.

The financial capacity of the husband, his actual income, reasonable expenses for his own maintenance, and dependant family members whom he is obliged to maintain under the law, liabilities if any, would be required to be taken into consideration, to arrive at the appropriate quantum of maintenance to be paid. The Court must have due regard to the standard of living of the husband, as well as the spiralling inflation rates and high costs of living.

Serious disability or ill health of a spouse, child / children from the marriage / dependant relative who require constant care and recurrent expenditure, would also be a relevant consideration while quantifying maintenance

The aforesaid factors are however not exhaustive, and the concerned Court may exercise its discretion to consider any other factor/s which may be necessary or of relevance in the facts and circumstances of a case.

(d) Date from which maintenance is to be awarded

Maintenance in all cases will be awarded from the date of filing the application for maintenance before the concerned Court. The right to claim maintenance must date back to the date of filing the application, since the period during which the maintenance proceedings remained pending is not within the control of the applicant.

(e) Enforcement/Execution of orders of maintenance

For enforcement / execution of orders of maintenance, it is directed that an order or decree of maintenance may be enforced under Section 28A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956; Section 20(6) of the D.V. Act; and Section 128 of Cr.P.C., as may be applicable. The order of maintenance may be enforced as a money decree of a civil court as per the provisions of the CPC, more particularly Sections 51, 55, 58, 60 r.w. Order XXI.

[Rajnesh v. Neha, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 903, decided on 04.11.2020]


*Justice Indu Malhotra has penned this judgment

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Ajay Mohan Goel J., while rejecting the present criminal revision sought against the compensation and maintenance allowed by the lower court, clarified the legal position on simultaneous remedy under the Domestic Violence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code.

 Brief Facts

Facts of the case are enumerated herewith;

  1. That a petition filed by the respondent herein, under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, stood allowed by the Court of Judicial Magistrate, titled as Palbi Sharma v. Sachin Sharma, vide order dated 23-12-2016, directing the present petitioner to pay monthly maintenance to the tune of Rs 3000 per month to the present respondent/wife from the date of the order.
  2. That, in addition Rs 20000 was also ordered by way of compensation by the Court against the proven acts of cruelty committed by the present petitioner.
  3. That the petitioner was also directed to provide accommodation to the wife, on rent comprising of one room, kitchen bathroom and toilet or in the alternative to provide said accommodation in his own house if he was in a position to do so.
  4. That the petitioner filed an appeal against the abovementioned decision which was dismissed by the Court of Sessions Judge vide judgment dated 29-09-2018.
  5. That the wife also filed an appeal against the order passed by the Court of Judicial Magistrate, which was also dismissed by the Appellate Court vide the same order.
  6. That the wife has not preferred any further petition against the adjudication made in her appeal by the Appellate Court, therefore, this Court is not making any observation qua rejection of the said appeal but, feeling aggrieved by the dismissal of the appeal preferred by the petitioner, the present Court herein addresses this case as filed under Section 397 read with Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 Issue

Whether the present criminal revision filed by the petitioner maintainable?

 Decision

While rejecting the present criminal revision, the Court concurred with the findings of the lower court and said that both, the amount granted under Section 125 CrPC, amounting Rs 3500 and an amount of Rs 3000, ordered under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, in addition to the compensation of Rs 20000, awarded against the proven charges of cruelty, stand justified and “by no stretch of imagination, can be said to be on the higher side”. The Court further clarified that, “The provisions of Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 are distinct and different. Law does not prohibit the wife to proceed under both of the said statutory provisions simultaneously or otherwise.”[Sachin Sharma v. Palvi Sharma,  2020 SCC OnLine HP 2109, decided on 26-10-2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, J., while addressing the present matter, observed that:

… right of maintenance available to wife from husband is an absolute right and even divorce cannot affect this right unless the wife is disqualified on account of remarriage or her sufficient earning.

It was also observed:

Gender justice is a constitutional promise and the provision of maintenance provided under Section 125 of the Code is one of the tools to translate the constitutional promise into social reality. Moreover, Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees every person a right to live with dignity and a dignified life is not possible unless a fair and reasonable provision is made by the husband towards the maintenance of his divorced wife. Therefore, while interpreting and applying this beneficial legislation, the Constitutional vision of equality, liberty and justice, more particularly social justice to the women and marginalized sections of society, must be present when the courts are dealing with an application of destitute wife or helpless children and aged and infirm parents. Social justice adjudication or social context adjudication requires application of equality jurisprudence where the parties to a litigation are unequally situated in terms of socio-economic structure and dilution of the technical procedure often followed in adversarial system.

Instant criminal revision was preferred against the impugned judgment passed by Family Court under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 by which OP 2 – Divorced Wife was awarded Rs 3,000 as maintenance.

Before the Court below, the wife gave an application under Section 125 CrPC stating that she was married to revisionist according to the Muslim Personal Law and later during the course of her marriage, her husband and his family demanded motorcycle, refrigerator and dowry and on non-fulfilment of the same, she was beaten up and expelled along with her daughter. On being expelled she along with her daughter started living with her parents.

The wife was totally dependent on her father, later after the death of her father she was facing financial trouble and was not able to maintain herself, hence she claimed maintenance.

Present revision was filed by the husband challenging the impugned judgment on the ground that earlier a case under Section 125 CrPC for maintenance which was filed by wife was decided wherein the maintenance claim of the wife was rejected on the ground that being Muslim she was not entitled for maintenance after divorce beyond period of iddat and by this impugned judgment, the said judgment has been reviewed, which is contrary to law.

Revisionist’s Counsel contended that divorced Muslim wife is not entitled to maintenance under the law applicable to parties and the subsequent application is barred by the principle of res judicata.

In Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, (1985) 2 SCC 556, the issue before the court was that where a Muslim woman had been divorced by her husband and paid her mahr, would it indemnify the husband from his obligation to pay maintenance under the provisions of Section 125 CrPC. A five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the Code of Criminal Procedure controls the proceedings in such matters and overrides the personal law of the parties and in case of conflict between the terms of the Code and the rights and obligations of the individuals under personal law, the Code would prevail.

In the above-cited case, the important feature of the case was that the wife had managed the matrimonial home for more than 40 years and had borne and reared five children and was incapable of taking up any career or independently supporting herself at that late stage of her life and remarriage was an impossibility in that case. The husband, a successful Advocate, with an approximate income of Rs 5,000 per month provided Rs 200 per month to the divorced wife, who had shared his life for half a century and mothered his five children and was in desperate need of money to survive.

Supreme Court interpreted the provisions of the Act and Section 125 CrPC in such a way as to give recognition to the right of divorced Muslim wife to claim maintenance under Section 125 even for the period beyond iddat period and for the whole life unless she is disqualified for the reasons such as entering into marriage with someone else.

Hence, in view of the above Court found no force in the argument that a divorced Muslim wife is not entitled to maintenance beyond the iddat period.

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been enacted to achieve a social object and the object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution and to provide speedy remedy to deserted or divorced wife, minor children and infirm parents in terms of food, clothing and shelter and minimum needs of one’s life.

 Bench held that when the Supreme Court has interpreted and clarified the law and has laid down that the Muslim divorced wife can still claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC despite the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, her claim cannot be defeated on the basis of an earlier decision of the court below and the earlier judgment cannot operate as res judicata.

Court while concluding its decision held that:

Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been enacted with a specific purpose to protect women and children and to prevent vagrancy and destitution among them. This law is not community-centric or religion centric and perhaps, one of the most secular enactment ever made in the country. It is an instrument of social justice and aims to render justice on the basis of equality to wife, in particular, may be divorced including a divorced Muslim wife.

In view of the above, the revision petition was dismissed and the Family Court’s decision was upheld. [Jubair Ahmad v. Ishrat Bano, 2019 SCC OnLine All 4065, decided on 18-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: While deciding an application for transfer of two cases from one jurisdiction to another, R. Narayana Pisharadi, J., disposed of the same finding no reason to pass an order to that effect.

The factual matrix in the present case is that the respondent has filed O.P. No. 460 of 2019 against the first petitioner in the family court, Muvattupuzha for restitution of conjugal rights. The respondent has filed another O.P. No. 662 of 2019 against the petitioners in the same court seeking guardianship and permanent custody of the two minor children.

The present application has been filed by the petitioners to transfer the above mentioned two cases from the family court, Muvattupuzha to the family court, Thrissur.

The following grounds have been set forth by the petitioner for transfer of the cases: (1) The family court, Muvattupuzha has got no jurisdiction to entertain

and try the case O.P. No. 662 of 2019 and it should’ve been filed before the Family Court, Thrissur. (2) The first petitioner has filed a case as M.C.No.639 of 2019 against the respondent under Section 125 CrPC in the family court, Thrissur claiming maintenance for the two minor children. Consolidation of the two cases pending in the family court, Muvattupuzha and the case M.C.No. 639 of 2019 pending in the family court, Thrissur is necessary. (3) The first petitioner and her parents are residing at Thrissur. The convenience of the wife and the children has to be given preference in matrimonial matters.

With reference to the contention that family court, Muvattupuzha lacks jurisdiction, the Court observed that the said contention is irrelevant as it should have been raised before that family court itself. It requires consideration of disputed facts which can be done by the family court and not this Court.

The Court also observed that just because of the fact that first petitioner has instituted a case as M.C.No.639 of 2019 in the family court, Thrissur is also not a sufficient ground to transfer the other two cases pending in the family court, Muvattupuzha to the family court, Thrissur.

While deliberating over the principle generally followed that in applications for transfer of cases relating to matrimonial matters, the convenience of the wife has to be given preference; the Court observed that in the present matter preference has to be given to the convenience and welfare of the children.

Counsel for the respondent, Biju Abraham has submitted that currently children are in the custody of the respondent and they are living with him and his parents at his house which is within the jurisdiction of the family court, Muvattupuzha. The petitioner has failed to provide any evidence which could show otherwise. The respondent is a practicing doctor while the first petitioner is pursuing her post-graduate studies. Transfer of the cases from the family court, Muvattupuzha to the family court, Thrissur would cause considerable hardship to the respondent and also to the children.

The Court also noted that the respondent had filed O.P.(FC) Nos. 309 of 2020 and 323 of 2020 before this Court for speedy disposal of the cases O.P. No. 460 of 2019 and O.P. No. 662 of 2019 pending before the family court, Muvattupuzha in which this Court allowed the prayer issuing a direction that family court, Muvattupuzha has to dispose of the aforesaid two cases within a period of six months. If the cases are transferred now, then the same would result in an unnecessary delay thus defeating the purpose of expeditious disposal in return.

In view of the above, the Court has dismissed the present application finding no merit in the arguments raised by the petitioner.[Nimi v. Ajith M.T., 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 4313, decided on 09-10-2020]


Yashvardhan Shrivastav, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: B. Pugalendhi, J., while addressing an issue observed and reiterated the established position of the Supreme Court that, under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 an illegitimate child is entitled to maintenance.

Present criminal revision case was filed against the Judicial Magistrate’s order.

Petitioner’s second wife i.e. respondent 2 states that she got married to the petitioner as per the Hindu Customs and with the consent of his first wife Jeyalakshi and the family members.

Further, she added that she gave birth to a female child i.e. respondent 1.

After some time, the petitioner started harassing the respondent-wife and respondents which resulted in the respondent-wife leaving the house.

On filing a complaint before the All Women Police Station wherein the petitioner agreed to pay maintenance to the respondents but later he denied to pay the same.

In view of the above, the respondent-wife sought maintenance before the Magistrate.

Aggrieved with the magistrate’s decision, the petitioner/husband filed the revision case.

Petitioner raised the ground that the respondent-wife did not elicit through any evidence that the petitioner had sufficient means to pay the maintenance to respondents.

Not Entitled to Maintenance | Magistrate

Trial Court held that the second respondent was not entitled to any maintenance as she was not the legally wedded wife as per the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 when the first marriage of the petitioner was still in force.

Avoidance to maintain the child

It appeared that the revision petitioner used to run the shop in his first wife’s name, however, he claimed that he was working as an employee for a salary of Rs 3,500. Thus the respondent took such a plea only to avoid the payment of maintenance of the child.

For the petitioner’s plea that he had no means to pay the maintenance, Supreme Court’s decision in Sumitra Devi v. Bhikan Choudhary, (1985) 1 SCC 637 was referred, wherein following was held:

“…under Section 125 of the CrPC even an illegitimate minor child is entitled to maintenance. Even if the fact of marriage is discarded, the minor child being found to be an illegitimate daughter of the respondent would be entitled to maintenance.”

Even in Supreme Court’s decision of Bakulbhai v. Gangaram, (1988) 1 SCC 537, it was held that,

“…even an illegitimate child is entitled for maintenance.”

Bench also referred to Section 125 of CrPC which provides that an illegitimate child is entitled to maintenance and the same has been reiterated by the Supreme Court in a number of cases.

Hence,

Husband is duty bound to maintain his dependendants, regardless of his job and income.

Adding to the above, Court held that as a father of the child, it is the petitioner’s responsibility and moral duty to take care of his own daughter by paying the maintenance.[Pachaimuthu v. Minor Vishanthini, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2677, decided on 01-10-2020]

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]