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Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K. Agarwal, J. imposed costs of Rs 2000 while dismissing a petition filed by a step-son for setting aside the order of the Tribunal directing him to pay Rs 10,000 per month as maintenance to her step-mother (respondent).

Manoj Kumar Sinha, Advocate for the step-son contended that the amount of Rs 10,000 was shockingly high and the petitioner was incapable of making the payment. Per contra, Aarti Chandra Dutt, Advocate for the step-mother submitted that the Tribunal had rightly allowed her application filed under Section 4 read with Section 5 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Referring to the various relevant provisions of the Act, the High court observed: “The Act of 2007 has been enacted to provide for more effective provisions for the maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens guaranteed and recognized under the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” It was also noted that “parent” as defined in Section 2(d) includes step-parents. It was found that the Tribunal passed the order granting maintenance on the basis of material available on record, holding that the step-son was a government teacher with sufficient income to maintain his step-mother.

Commenting that the present was unfortunate litigation and in view of the “well-renowned mandate of our scriptures”, the court dismissed the appeal with costs of Rs 2000 to be payable by the step-mother. [Uttar Kumar Bhoi v. Surekha Bhoi, 2019 SCC OnLine Chh 23, dated 12-3-2019]

High Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: While deciding as to whether the step-mother can claim maintenance from her step-son under Section 125 of the CrPC, a bench of Sanjay K. Agrawal J upheld the order of the Family Court which granted maintenance @ Rs. 1000 per month to the step-mother from each of her step-son(s) in view of the benevolent provisions contained in Section 125 CrPC.

D.N. Prajapati, learned Counsel for the applicants (step-son) contended that the impugned order of the Family Court is liable to be setaside as Section 125(1)(d) CrPC extends only to natural mother for maintenance. Sourabh Dangi, learned amicus curiae submitted that though under Section 125(1)(d) CrPC, ‘mother’ would not include ‘step-mother’, but step-mother, who is childless and unable to maintain herself, would be entitled for maintenance from her step-son, as Section 125 of the Code is a beneficial and benevolent provision and therefore, the order of the Family Court is not unexceptionable and not liable to be interfered.

The Court relied on the decision of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujarat (1996) 4 SCC 479, where the Supreme Court held that the dominant purpose of Section 125 CrPC is that the wife, child and parents should not be left in a helpless state of distress, destitution and starvation, and hence, a childless step-mother may claim maintenance from her step-son under Section 125 CrPC, provided she is widow or her husband, if living, is incapable of supporting and maintaining her.

The Court appreciated the submission made by the learned amicus curiae Sourabh Dangi, which enabled the Court to decide the issue and held that the non-applicant in the present case (an aged widow and childless step-mother living alone and unable to maintain herself)  is entitled for maintenance from her step-son(s), the applicants. The Court concluded that the order of the Family Court granting maintenance to the non-applicant from the applicants is absolutely justified keeping in view the benevolent provisions contained in Section 125 of the code. Deenbandhu v. Birajho Bai, 2015 SCC OnLine Chh 64, decided on 15.07.2015