Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. directed the parties to appear before the trial court for fresh consideration of an application under Section 125 CrPC filed by the wife, son and daughter of the respondent.

Earlier the application for grant of maintenance was rejected by the trial court. In regard to son and daughter, the rejection was on the ground that they were major. While in regard to the wife, rejection was on the ground that she was employed and earning. This finding was based on the report of one Bajaj Detective Agency employed by the respondent which stated that the wife was employed as a Lab Assistant in Safdarjung Hospital.

Umesh Sinha and Anil Kumar Singh, Advocates for petitioners contended that even daughters are entitled to maintenance till their marriage and thus challenged the rejection of the application by the trial court.

The High Court noted the admitted position that at the time filing the application, the son was a minor. The daughter was 23 years but the fact whether she was earning and able to maintain herself was not considered. Furthermore, in regard to the wife, perusal of the detective’s report showed that the above-mentioned finding was not based on any foundational document, fact or evidence. it was also noted that the parties had not filed their income affidavit before the Court. On such facts and circumstances, the Court held that the impugned order was not sustainable and the matter was remitted back to the trial court for fresh consideration. The parties were directed to file their affidavit of income and expenditure in the format laid down in Kusum Sharma v. Mahinder Kumar Sharma, 2015 SCC OnLine Del 6793. [Kamlesh Sharma v. State, Crl. Revision Petition 332 of 2017, 16-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sunil Gaur, J. upheld the order of the trial court directing DNA testing of the petitioner.

DNA testing was ordered to ascertain paternity of minor child whose right to claim maintenance was disputed by petitioner on the ground that he was not the natural father of the child in question.

Shalini Sharma, Advocate for the petitioner submitted that he disputed that he was married to Respondent 1 and there was no proof that the child in question was born from their wedlock.

The High Court relied on Nandlal Wasudeo Badwaik v. Lata Nandlal Badwaik, (2014) 2 SCC 576 where Supreme Court reiterated that DNA is an accurate test. In the present case, the Court noted that occasion to pass the impugned order arose while considering an application under Section 125 CrPC which requires payment of maintenance even to an illegitimate minor child. It was held that in such situation, conclusive proof of marriage could not be made the basis to repel the impugned order. The impugned order did not suffer from any infirmity and thus, the petition was dismissed. [Vijay Kumar v. Renu, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6458, Order dated 08-01-2019]

Law made Easy

[Disclaimer: This note is for general information only. It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the blog shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note]

Introduction

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

These provisions along with important cases are discussed below:

Statutory Provisions

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Section 26  – During the proceedings under the Act, the court may pass orders with respect to the custody, maintenance, and education of minor children. Under this Act, both parents (father as well as mother or either of them) are liable to maintain the children as ordered by the court. While making such orders, the court takes into account wishes of the children, as far as possible. Such orders and provisions may be altered from time to time. Any application in respect to maintenance and education of minor children during pendency of proceedings under the Act has to be decided within sixty days from the date of service of notice on the respondent, as far as possible.

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, Section 20 A Hindu male or female is bound to maintain his or her legitimate/illegitimate minor children and aged/infirm parents. Aged or infirm parent (which includes childless stepmother) or unmarried daughter have to be maintained if they are unable to maintain themselves. Section 23 sub-section (2) states that while determining the amount of maintenance to be awarded to children or aged or infirm parents, the court shall consider the following:

(a) position and status of the parties; (b) reasonable wants of the claimants; (c) if the claimant is living separately, whether the claimant is justified in doing so; (d) claimants income and value of property held by him, if any; etc.

If a person ceases to be a Hindu (changes his religion), he/she cannot claim maintenance under this Act [Section 24]. The amount of maintenance may be modified if there is a change in circumstances warranting so [Section 25].

Under this Act, even the heirs of a deceased Hindu are bound to maintain his/her “dependants” out of his/her estate inherited by them [Section 22]. Dependents include deceased person’s minor son, unmarried daughter, widowed daughter, minor illegitimate son, minor illegitimate daughter [Section 21].

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Section 125 – Magistrate may order a person to make monthly allowance for maintenance in a case where any person who despite having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain – (i) his legitimate or illegitimate minor child who is unable to maintain itself; or  (ii) legitimate or illegitimate major child (not being a married daughter) unable to maintain itself due to any physical or mental abnormality/injury; or (iii) married daughter till she attains majority if her husband is not able to maintain her; or (iv) his/her father or mother who are unable to maintain themselves. This section also makes a provision for maintenance during the pendency of proceedings regarding monthly allowance for maintenance. Also, application for interim maintenance during pending proceedings is to be decided by the Magistrate, as far as possible, within sixty days of the date of service of notice of application to such person. A person who fails to comply with the order of the Magistrate without showing sufficient cause may also be sent to prison. The order of maintenance passed under this section may be altered by the Magistrate on proof of change in circumstances [Section 127].

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, Section 3 – A divorced Muslim woman is entitled to a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance for children born to her for a period of two years from the respective dates of birth of such children. It does not matter if the children were born before or after the divorce, the former husband is liable to pay maintenance. If the former husband fails to comply with the order passed by Magistrate without showing sufficient reason, he may have to suffer imprisonment up to one year.

Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, Section 4 – Parent (father or mother whether biological, adoptive or step father or step mother, whether senior citizen or not) or grand-parent who is unable to maintain himself is entitled to claim maintenance from one or more of his adult children (son, daughter, grandson and grand-daughter but does not include a minor). Obligation of the children to maintain their parents extends to such needs of the parents which will allow them to lead a normal life. Additionally, this Act also makes provision for maintenance of childless senior citizens (who has attained the age of sixty years or above) by their relatives. The “relative” means any legal heir of childless senior citizen who is in possession of his property or would inherit it after his death, but it does not include a minor.

If the parents or senior citizens are incapable of applying for monthly allowance for maintenance themselves, in that case, an application can be made through any other person or organisation authorised by them. Such an application has to be decided by Maintenance Tribunal within a maximum period of 120 days from the date of service of notice to children/relative. If children/relative fails to comply with the orders of the Tribunal, this may result in imprisonment upto one month. [Section 5]. The Tribunal may order the children/relative to make a monthly allowance at a rate deemed fit by the Tribunal. However, the maximum amount of maintenance cannot exceed Rs 10,000 per month. [Section 9]. The order of maintenance may be altered by the Tribunal on proof of change in circumstances [Section 10].

Cases

Children of void marriage entitled to maintenance

A child born out of a void marriage between a woman and a man who already has a wife is to be treated as a legitimate child who is entitled to maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, Bakulabai v. Gangaram, (1988) 1 SCC 537.

Father to maintain the unmarried daughter

An unmarried daughter unable to maintain herself is entitled to claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. The father is obliged to maintain her unmarried daughters even if they are living separately with their mother, Jasbir Kaur Sehgal v. District Judge, Dehradun, (1997) 7 SCC 7.

Daughter to be maintained until she gets married even after attaining majority

Daughter is entitled to maintenance under CrPC when read with Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 even after attaining majority but till her marriage, Jagdish Jugtawat v. Manju Lata, (2002) 5 SCC 422.

Hindu earning mother is also obliged to maintain children

Both, a Hindu divorcee father and a Hindu divorcee earning mother are obliged to contribute for maintenance of their children under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Father is not exclusively responsible to maintain children regardless of mother being affluent, Padmja Sharma v. Ratan Lal Sharma, (2000) 4 SCC 266.

CrPC applies only when there is neglect or refusal to maintain despite having sufficient means

A case for grant of maintenance under Section 125 CrPC arises only when a person despite having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his legitimate or illegitimate minor children who are unable to maintain themselves, Amarendra Kumar Paul v. Maya Paul, (2009) 8 SCC 359.

Maintenance under CrPC & 1986 Act runs parallel (Muslim children entitled to maintenance under CrPC)

The benefit under Section 125 CrPC is available to all children irrespective of religion. Right under Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 is that of the mother to claim maintenance for children for two years from their date of birth and is distinct and independent of the right to maintenance under CrPC to minor children unable to maintain themselves, Noor Saba Khatoon v. Mohd. Quasim, (1997) 6 SCC 233.

Daughter is also obliged to maintain parents

Along with a son, Section 125 CrPC imposes liability even on daughter whether married or unmarried, having sufficient means to pay maintenance to her parents who are unable to maintain themselves, Vijaya Manohar Arbat v. Kashirao Rajaram Sawai, (1987) 2 SCC 278.

When can a stepmother claim maintenance from her stepson

A childless stepmother may claim maintenance from her stepson provided she is a widow or her husband, if living, is incapable of supporting and maintaining her, Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujarat, (1996) 4 SCC 479.

Conditions for grant of maintenance to parents and senior citizens under 2007 Act

Senior citizens, including parents, will be entitled to maintenance under Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 if only they are unable to maintain themselves from their own earnings or out of the income from the property owned by them, M. Venugopal v. DM, Kanyakumari, 2014 SCC OnLine Mad 5642.

Law made Easy

[Disclaimer: This note is for general information only. It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the blog shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note]

 Introduction

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

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

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

for Parsis – Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936

for Christians – Divorce Act, 1869

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

Temporary Maintenance (pendente lite)

Temporary maintenance is granted by the court during the pendency of proceeding for divorce or separation to meet the immediate needs of the petitioner.

Under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 either of the spouses, husband or wife can be granted relief if the court is satisfied that the applicant has no independent income sufficient for his or her support and necessary expenses of the proceedings pending under the Act.

Interim maintenance may also be claimed under Section 125 CrPC by the wife during the pendency of proceeding for regarding monthly allowance for maintenance under Section 125(1) CrPC.

Furthermore, Section 36 of Special Marriage Act, 1954 also makes provision for the wife to seek expenses from the husband if it appears to the district court that she does not have independent income sufficient for her support and necessary expenses of proceedings under Chapters V or VI of that Act.

Still further, under Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 either Parsi wife or husband is entitled to claim expenses where the proceeding is pending under the Act. Section 39 of the Act which is substantially the same as Section 36 of the Special Marriage Act makes a provision in this behalf.

Also, under Section 36 of Divorce Act, 1869 which applies to persons professing Christain religion, a wife is entitled to expenses of proceeding under the Act and maintenance while the suit is pending.

All these provisions specify that the application for interim maintenance has to be disposed of within sixty days of service of notice on the respondent.

Permanent Maintenance

It is the maintenance granted permanently after the disposal of the proceeding for divorce or separation.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Section 25 – Applicant, either wife or husband is entitled to receive from the spouse for his/her maintenance and support a gross sum or monthly or periodical sum for a term not exceeding the applicant’s lifetime or until he/she remarries or remains chaste.

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, Section 18 – Hindu wife is entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime. Wife also has a right to separate residence and maintenance if any of the condition in Section 18(2) [desertion, cruelty, leprosy, any other wife/ concubine living in the same house, conversion of religion or any other reasonable cause] is fulfilled until she remains chaste or does not convert to other religion. It may also be noted that Section 19 of this Act makes a provision for a widowed wife to be maintained by her father-in-law.

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Section 125 – This section provides for maintenance not only to the wife but also to child and parents. Court may order a husband who has sufficient means but neglects or refuses to maintain his wife who is unable to maintain herself to provide monthly maintenance to her. However, wife shall not be entitled to receive maintenance if she is living in adultery, or refuses to live with husband without any sufficient reasons, or living separately with mutual consent.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, Section 3 – A divorced Muslim woman is entitled to a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance to be paid to her within the iddat period by her former husband; an amount equal to the sum of mahr or dower agreed to be paid to her at the time of her marriage or at any time thereafter according to Muslim law; and all the properties given to her before or at the time of marriage or after her marriage by her relatives or friends or the husband or any relatives of the husband or his friends. If husband fails to provide her the above mentioned then Magistrate can order for payment of the same.

Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, Section 40 – A Parsi husband or wife may apply to the Court under this section whereupon the Court at the time of passing any decree under the Act or anytime subsequent thereto order that the defendant pay the plaintiff a gross or monthly sum for his/her maintenance and support. Such order may also be modified subsequently if the Court is satisfied that change in circumstances warrants so. The order may also be rescinded or modified if the party in whose favour the order was made remarries; or in case of wife, she does not remain chaste; or in case of the husband, he has sexual intercourse with any woman outside the wedlock.

Special Marriage Act, 1954, Section 37 – This section is also similar to Section 40 of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act. The difference being that under this section maintenance may be claimed only by a wife against the husband from a court exercising jurisdiction under Chapters V or VI of the Act. An order made under this section may be modified or rescinded by the district court at the instance of the husband if it is shown that the wife has remarried or is not leading a chaste life.

Divorce Act, 1869, Section 37 – This section empowers the district court to order the husband to secure a reasonable gross sum to the wife or annual sum not exceeding her lifetime when a decree of dissolution or decree or judicial separation is obtained by the wife. While passing such order, the court may have regard to fortune of the wife, ability of the husband and conduct of the parties. The court may also order the husband to pay such monthly or weekly sum to the wife for her maintenance as the court may think reasonable. If subsequently, the husband becomes unable to make such payments, the court may discharge or modify such order.

Cases

Maintenance defined

Maintenance includes — (i) in all cases, provisions for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment; (ii) in the case of an unmarried daughter also the reasonable expenses of and incident to her marriage, Section 3(b), Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

Maintenance necessarily must encompass a provision for residence. Maintenance is given so that the lady can live in the manner, more or less, to which she was accustomed. The concept of maintenance must, therefore, include provision for food and clothing and the like and take into account the basic need of a roof over the head, Mangat Mal v. Punni Devi, (1995) 6 SCC 88.

 Sustenance defined

Maintenance of wife for her ‘sustenance’ does not mean animal existence but signifies leading life in a similar manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband. Husband is duty bound to enable his wife to live life with dignity according to their social status and strata, Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, (2015) 6 SCC 353.

Wife defined

“Wife” Includes a woman who has been divorced by or has obtained a divorce from, her husband and has not remarried,  Section 125(1) Explanation (b), CrPC 1973.

“Wife” in Section 125 CrPC means a legally wedded wife and also includes a divorced wife, D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469.

Maintenance only to legally wedded wife

Only a legally wedded wife is entitled to maintenance. A Hindu woman marrying a Hindu male having a living wife, is not entitled to maintenance as this marriage is void, Yamunabai Anantrao Adhav v. Anantrao Shivram Adhav, (1988) 1 SCC 530.

Maintenance to ‘previous wife’

A Muslim husband contracting another marriage or taking a mistress is liable to pay maintenance to the previous wife who also has right to live separately which is payable from the date of the other marriage. Irrespective of religion, husband cannot absolve his liability by offering to take back the wife and maintain her, Begum Subanu v. A.M. Abdul Gafoor, (1987) 2 SCC 285.

 Maintenance to second wife

Husband who conceals subsistence of his earlier marriage while marrying the second wife is entitled to give maintenance to second wife. Second wife is to be treated as a legally wedded wife for the purpose of maintenance, Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse, (2014) 1 SCC 188.

Wife ‘living separately with mutual consent’ does not include divorced wife

The meaning of ‘wife’ under Sections 125(1) and 125(4) CrPC is different. Section 125(4) contemplates a married woman. Wife living separately from husband with mutual consent does not mean wife who obtains divorce by mutual consent and lives separately and therefore cannot be denied maintenance on this ground, Vanamala v. H.M. Ranganatha Bhatta, (1995) 5 SCC 299.

Is an earning wife entitled to maintenance?

Wife having a school of her own and possessing wet lands is in a better financial position than husband who is not doing well in his profession and has no land. Hence, it is unnecessary to pay any maintenance to the wife, Rosy Jacob v. Jacob A. Chakramakkal, (1973) 1 SCC 840.

Wife’s income to be accounted for determining maintenance

Wife’s income has to be taken into account while determining the amount of maintenance payable to her. It is not an absolute right of a neglected wife to get maintenance nor it is an absolute liability of husband to support her in all the circumstances, Bhagwan Dutt v. Kamla Devi, (1975) 2 SCC 386.

Maintenance to woman in a live-in relationship

The Supreme Court expressed its opinion that a broad interpretation of “wife” should include cases where man and woman live together as husband and wife for a reasonably long period of time (live-in relationship/ presumed marriage/ de facto marriage/ cohabitation). A strict proof of marriage should not be a precondition for maintenance under S. 125 CrPC so as to fulfill the true spirit and essence of the beneficial provision of maintenance, Chanmuniya v. Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha, (2011) 1 SCC 141. (This judgment has however been referred to a larger bench)

Recently, it is held that a woman in a live-in relationship has an efficacious remedy to seek maintenance under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 even if it is assumed that she is not entitled to the same under Section 125 CrPC. In fact, under the Domestic Violence Act, the victim would be entitled to more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 CrPC, Lalita Toppo v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2301.

Woman knowingly entering in a live-in relationship with a married man

All live-in relationships are not relationships in the nature of marriage. There has to be some inherent/ essential characteristic of marriage though not a marriage legally recognised. A live-in relationship between an unmarried woman knowingly entering into relationship with a married male cannot be termed as a relationship in the “nature of marriage” and her status would be that of a concubine or mistress and therefore is not entitled to maintenance, Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755.

 Muslim woman entitled to maintenance under CrPC

A divorced Muslim woman has right under Section 125 CrPC to claim maintenance even beyond the iddat period. If the woman is able to maintain herself then the liability of husband to maintain her ceases with the expiration of iddat period. However, on the inability of maintaining herself, she can take recourse of that section. Section 125 has an overriding effect on personal law in case of conflict between the two, Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, (1985) 2 SCC 556.

Divorced Muslim woman can claim maintenance from State Wakf Board

A divorced Muslim woman unable to maintain herself can directly claim maintenance from the State Wakf Board in the first instance under Section 4 of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 and in the same proceeding can plead inability of her relatives to maintain her. Relatives can be added as parties to the litigation if they have enough means to pay maintenance, T.N. Wakf Board v. Syed Fatima Nachi, (1996) 4 SCC 616.

Husband to make fair provision and maintenance within iddat period for ex-wife’s whole life

Section 3(1)(a) of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 makes husband liable to make a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance to divorced Muslim wife on or before the expiration of the iddat period. However, this maintenance is not limited only for the iddat period but extends to her whole life unless she remarries. Husband is obliged to provide a reasonable and fair provision in addition to maintenance to contemplate the future need of ex-wife, Danial Latifi v. Union of India, (2001) 7 SCC 740.

Maintenance not restricted to iddat period

A divorced Muslim wife is entitled to maintenance not merely until the completion of the iddat period, but for her entire life unless she remarries. Sabra Shamim v. Maqsood Ansari, (2004) 9 SCC 616.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of M.S. Sonak, J. held in a petition by relying on several decisions that, “an agreement, in which wife gives up or relinquish her right to claim maintenance at any time in the future,is  opposed to public policy and therefore, such an agreement, even if voluntarily entered, is not enforceable.”

The facts in the present case are as follows, Learned Counsel Sandeep Koregave placed his submissions for the petitioner that, during the Lok Adalat proceedings, petitioner and respondent 1 filed a consent pursis, in which they not only agreed to dissolve their marriage but also agreed not to claim any maintenance from each other. Further, he stated that respondent-wife had made false allegations that her consent was obtained by fraud. The main contention placed by the learned counsel for the petitioner was that, in terms of agreement recorded in the consent decree, respondent having waived her right to receive maintenance, cannot now maintain an application under Section 125 CrPC.

Counsel for the respondent-wife Mr Nagesh Chavan stated that there can be no agreement in derogation of the provisions of Section 125 CrPC since such provisions have been designed as a matter of public policy to protect against destitution and vagrancy.

The High Court, relied on various decisions, such as Shahnaz Bano v. Babbu Khan ; 1985 SCC OnLine Bom 200, wherein it was observed: “even in a case covered by Clause (c) of Section 127 (3) of CrPC, where the wife has surrendered her rights voluntarily, in a given case, if after waiving her rights to maintenance, she becomes vagrant and destitute and is unable to maintain herself, then irrespective of her personal law, she would be entitled to avail statutory remedy for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC.”

and Ranjit Kaur v. Pavittar Singh; 1991 SCC OnLine P&H 693 for the proposition that: “The statutory right of a wife of maintenance cannot be bartered, done away with or negatived by the husband by setting up an agreement to the contrary. Such an agreement in addition to it being against public policy would also be against the clear intendment of this provision”

After so referring, the Court stated that there is no reason to interfere with the views taken by the two courts in the present matter. Therefore, application of respondent 1 under Section 125 CrPC is held as maintainable and there is no doubt that the Magistrate will dispose of the application under Section 125 CrPC, in accordance with law and on its own merits. Further, learned Judicial Magistrate in the present case is directed to dispose of application of respondent 1. [Ramachandra Laxman Kamble v. Shobha Ramachandra Kamble, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 7039, dated 21-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed a criminal writ petition filed by the husband praying quashing of FIR under Section 498-A IPC and complaint under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

The grounds for seeking quashing of the FIR and the complaint was that they were registered to wreak vengeance and were beyond the period of limitation as the parties separated in 2014. It is pertinent to note that the wife had filed a complaint before CAW Cell in 2015 where a settlement was arrived at between the parties at pre-litigation mediation. However, it was not fully acted upon and even after an application the earlier complaint could not be revived. Thus, the filed fresh complaint in 2018.

The High Court was of the view that the FIR was within the period of limitation. Relying on Vanka Radhamanohari v. Vanka Venkata Reddy, (1993) 3 SCC 4 and Asha Ahuja v. Rajesh Ahuja, 2003 SCC OnLine Del 316, the Court held that Section 468 CrPC which deals with “bar to taking cognizance after lapse of period of limitation” is to be read with Section 473 which provides for “extension of period of limitation in certain cases”. Further relying on Arun Vyas v. Anita Vyas, (1999) 4 SCC 690, it was held that is a continuing offence and each occasion of “cruelty” is a new starting point of limitation. As far as a complaint under Section 12 DV Act is concerned, it was noted that it related to the grant of maintenance for the wife and minor child. It was held that “not providing maintenance is a continuous cause of action and even if for three years the wife did not claim maintenance for herself or for the child, the same would not debar her from seeking maintenance under Section 12 DV Act and the complaint thereon cannot be dismissed being barred by limitation”. In such view of the matter, the petition was dismissed. [Anthony Jose v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2018 SCC OnLine Del 12956, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Raja Vijayaraghavan V, J. set aside an order of Family Court refusing maintenance to wife on the basis of husband’s submissions.

Petitioner, who was respondent’s wife, filed a petition seeking maintenance for herself and her daughter under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. The respondent undertook to pay his daughter’s fee directly to school but refused to maintain his wife. He submitted a memo stating that petitioner was a qualified doctor having BDS degree who refused to work and earn for herself, and therefore he was not willing to provide maintenance to her. On the basis of said memo, Family Court refused the petitioner’s claim. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

The Court noted that petitioner had been refused maintenance on the sole ground that she was qualified and could maintain herself. No reasons had been stated in the impugned order, other than making a reference to the respondent’s memo. The Court relied on the decision in Sunita Kachwaha v. Anil Kachwaha, (2014) 16 SCC 715 holding that even if the wife was earning some amount, that may not be a reason to outrightly reject her maintenance application. It was held that, in the instant case, Family Court should have applied its mind carefully before rejecting petitioner’s prayer for maintenance.

It was further opined that the concept of sustenance does not necessarily mean to live life in penury and roam around for basic maintenance. Wife is entitled to lead a life in the same manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband. Husband is not entitled to contend that he is not prepared to pay any maintenance and courts are not expected to accept the blatant refusal of the husband with folded hands.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed and Family Court was directed to pass fresh orders in the petition expeditiously and in any case within one month. [Alphonsa Joseph v. Anand Joseph,2018 SCC OnLine Ker 5012, decided on 29-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This appeal was preferred before a 2-Judge Bench of Rakesh Kumar and  Anupinder Singh, JJ., against the judgment and decree passed by the Additional District Judge by which petition filed under Sections 11 and 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by the respondent-husband for annulment of marriage with the appellant-wife was allowed.

During the pendency of this appeal, the appellant filed an application for maintenance pendente lite under Section 24 of the Act. The above application was allowed and thereby the respondent was supposed to pay Rs. 5,000 per month towards maintenance pendente lite. But since respondent failed to do so he was directed to pay entire arrears of maintenance pendente elite. The only contention made by respondent for non-payment of maintenance was that he did not have any money to give. High Court struck off respondent’s only defence leaving with the issue that if the respondent has no defence can the judgment and decree passed by the trial Court sustain or is to be set aside.

High Court struck off the defence of respondent on the ground of non-payment of maintenance, that he wanted annulment of marriage on the ground that appellant had already married twice and marriage with respondent was her third marriage with previous marriage subsisting. Thus, there remained no defence on record for annulment of marriage. Therefore, this appeal was allowed and judgment and decree passed by trial court was set aside. [Sonia v. Deepak, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 2024, decided on 04-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Jyoti Singh, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the Family Judge whereby the appellant-husband was directed to pay a sum of Rs 15, 000 per month as maintenance to his wife.

The respondent-wife had filed an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking maintenance from her husband. The Family Judge decided the quantum of maintenance as above to be paid by the husband to the wife. Aggrieved thereby, the husband filed the instant appeal. It was contended by the appellant that the Family Court did not properly appraise the facts and documents as submitted by him. It was averred that he was barely earning Rs 10,000 per month and therefore the Family Judge was not right in awarding the abovementioned amount as maintenance.

The High Court perused the record and was of the view that the pleas taken by the appellant about his income were not believable. Similarly, for his plea regarding the salary earned by the respondent was not supported by evidence. The Court referred to Jasbir Kaur v. District Judge, Dehradun, (1997) 7 SCC 7 wherein it was held that “considering the diverse claims made by the parties one inflating the income and the other suppressing, an element of conjecture and guess work does enter for arriving at the income of the husband. It cannot be done by any mathematical precision.” It was observed that in family matters, there is a tendency of spouses no to disclose their correct and true income; the present case was no different. In such view of the matter, it was held that the quantum of maintenance as calculated by the Family Judge suffered from no infirmity. Therefore, the appeal was dismissed. [Bhuvneneshwar Sachdeva v. Kavita Sachdeva,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12415,dated 29-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“When the parties live together as husband and wife, there is presumption that they are legally married couple for claim of maintenance of wife under Section 125 CrPC.”

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee, JJ., while setting aside the impugned judgment of the High Court of Karnataka and allowing the present appeal stated that “proceedings under Section 125 CrPC do not require strict standard proof of marriage.”

In the present case, the appellant had filed the present appeal against the judgment of Karnataka High Court which has set aside the family court’s decision of paying maintenance. The facts and submissions of the appellant were that the Appellant 1 had two children from wedlock between Appellant 1 and respondent. Further, while the marriage of Appellant 1 and respondent was subsisting, the respondent got married to one of his colleagues and started harassing and neglecting the appellants. Due to the stated reasons, Appellant 1 filed a police complaint after which the respondent was asked to pay Rs 3000 as maintenance. Appellant on not being able to maintain herself and her two children filed a criminal miscellaneous application under Section 125 CrPC for maintenance.

Respondent, in his submission, submitted of never being married to Appellant 1 and contended as there was no valid marriage, petition for maintenance was not maintainable. High Court had set aside the order of the family court and held that Appellant 1 was unable to prove she was the legally wedded wife of the respondent. Aggrieved by the same, the appellants approached the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court on a careful consideration of the submissions and impugned judgment along with the material placed on record and placing reliance on Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit, (1999) 7 SCC 675, stated that:

“Unlike matrimonial proceedings where strict proof of marriage is essential, in the proceedings under Section 125 CrPC, such strict standard proof is not necessary as it is summary in nature meant to prevent vagrancy.”

Therefore, the Supreme Court stated that family court on the basis of documentary and oral evidence held rightly in favour of the appellant and High Court being the revisional court had no power of reassessing the evidence and substitute its views on findings of facts. Hence, the impugned judgment of the High Court was set aside and the present appeal was allowed with a liberty given to the appellants to approach the family court for further enhancement of maintenance if required. [Kamala v. M.R. Mohan Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2121, decided on 24-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sangita Dhingra Sehgal and G.S. Sistani, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by the husband against the award of maintenance pendente lite awarded to the wife by the family court.

The instant appeal was filed by the husband under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 assailing  the order passed by the family court where the appellant was directed to pay Rs 4500 per month as maintenance to the respondent-wife under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act (maintenance pendente lite)  from the date of filing of the application. The husband submitted that as he was a permanent resident of U.P., the Minimum Wages Act of Delhi would not be applicable to him.

The High Court perused Section 24 and noted that it empowers the Court to award maintenance pendente lite and litigation expenses to a party who has no independent source of income sufficient for his/her support during the pendency of proceedings. Reference was made to Jasbir Kaur Sehgal v. District Judge, (1997) 7 SCC 7. The Court observed that in the present case, the husband failed to produce any documentary proof with regard to his employment status and also his actual income; and by not disclosing his source of income the husband was trying to defeat the legitimate right of the wife to claim maintenance. Furthermore, the appellant could not be allowed to take benefit of non-disclosure of his income despite being bound in law to disclose it. Thus, the plea of the husband that Minimum Wages Act of U.P. is applicable to him doesn’t come to his rescue. The appeal was accordingly dismissed. [Vijay Kushwaha v. Chanchal,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10828, dated 24-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mangesh S. Patil, J. dismissed a husband’s challenge to the award of compensation to his divorced wife granted by the Additional Sessions Judge.

The appellant-husband and respondent-wife were married in 2003. Subsequently, they developed discord and the wife left the husband alleging harassment. The husband filed petition for restitution of conjugal rights which was allowed. However, even after that, the parties couldn’t live together. Thereafter, the husband filed a divorce petition on grounds of desertion by the wife. The said petition was allowed and the marriage between the parties was dissolved, which decree had become final. Subsequent to that, the wife filed an application for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC. The application was rejected by the Judicial Magistrate; however, on appeal, the Additional Session Judge allowed the same. Aggrieved by the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, the husband had filed the present petition.

The High Court perused the record and found that the facts stated above were the admitted position of the parties. Marriage between the parties was indeed dissolved by a decree of dissolution which had become final. The question before the  Court was whether, under Section 125 CrPC, the Court could grant maintenance to a wife who was divorced on grounds of desertion. For adjudication, the Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Rohatash Singh v. Ramendri, 2000 (3) SCC 180  wherein it was held that even such a wife can claim maintenance under the section; however, it would be available to her only from the date on which decree for dissolution of marriage had been passed. Accordingly, the husband’s challenge to award of maintenance granted to the wife was dismissed. However, it was held that the wife would be entitled to maintenance only from the date of divorce decree, and not from the date of filing of an application under Section 125 as held by the Additional Sessions Judge. The petition was disposed of in the terms above. [Dnyaneshwar Eknath Kachre v. Sunita,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2243, dated 24-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Abhay Manohar Sapre, J. speaking for himself and his brother Judge Uday U. Lalit, gave judgment in a civil appeal arising out of matrimonial dispute whereby the appellant challenged the decree of divorce passed by family court and affirmed by High Court of Jharkhand.

The appellant-wife was married to the respondent-husband, and they had a daughter born out of the wedlock who was of marriageable age. The parties married in 1997, but their relations were not cordial from soon after the marriage. This led to the filing of a divorce petition by the husband against the wife on grounds of cruelty and desertion. The Family Judge dissolved the marriage and the decree was confirmed by the High Court.  Aggrieved thus, present appeal was filed by the wife.

The Supreme Court heard the parties and perused the record. It was noted that the parties were living separately for more than a decade. All attempts to conciliation through mediation had failed. There was absolutely no chance of them living together to continue their marital life.  While referring to Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli, (2006) 4 SCC 558 and Sanghamitra Ghosh v. Kajal Kumar Ghosh, (2007) 2 SCC 220, the Court held that in order to ensure that parties may live peacefully in future and their daughter would be settled properly, a quietus must be given to all litigation between the parties. Consistent with the broad consensus arrived at between the parties, the Court directed the husband to pay Rs 10 lakhs towards permanent alimony and maintenance to the appellant and the daughter. [Manju Kumari Singh v. Avinash Kumar Singh,2018 SCC OnLine SC 739, dated 25-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Division Bench comprising of M.M.S. Bedi and Anupinder Singh Grewal, JJ. allowed an application filed by the respondent-wife for maintenance pendente lite.

The appellant-husband had preferred an appeal against the dismissal of his divorce petition. The respondent-wife had filed the application under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act claiming maintenance pendent lite at the rate of Rs 20,000 per month. The appellant submitted that he was dismissed from the Army and was unemployed. Further, he had no source of income except what he got from the selling of milk.

The Court noted that there was no material to ascertain the income of the appellant and in such circumstances a bit of estimation was permissible. The appellant was an ex-army man and an able-bodied person. Even if he worked as an unskilled laborer, he was presumed to earn not less than Rs 15,000-20,000 per month. There was also one daughter born out of the wedlock. The Court held that the appellant cannot run away from his duty to maintain wife and daughter. In such circumstances, an amount of Rs 8,000 per month was found reasonable while awarding the maintenance pendente lite under Section 24. The application was thus allowed. [Jagdish Singh v. Sarabjit Kaur, 2018 SCC OnLine P&H 881, dated 03-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court (Goa Bench): A Single Judge Bench of the Goa Bench comprising of C.V. Bhadang, J. allowed a criminal writ petition filed against the judgment of the Sessions Judge whereby the petitioner was directed to pay maintenance to his adult son.

Earlier, Respondent 1 (wife of the petitioner) had filed an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (DV Act), seeking, inter alia, monetary reliefs. Learned Magistrate by his order granted interim maintenance of Rs. 8000 per month for Respondent 2, son of the petitioner. It was not disputed that Respondent 2 was a major, aged 25 years. The petitioner filed an appeal before the Sessions Judge against the order of the Magistrate contending that under the provision, only a ‘child’ is entitled to maintenance. However, the Sessions Judge dismissed his appeal holding that the petitioner was liable to pay maintenance to Respondent 2 since he was an engineering student with no source of income. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner approached the High Court.

In order to settle the issue, the High Court referred to Section 2(b) of the DV Act. On perusal of the section, the Court observed that ‘child’ within the meaning of the section means any person below the age of 18 years. In light of the undisputed fact that Respondent 2, son, was 25 years of age, the High Court held that he could not be included within the definition of ‘child’ as envisaged under Section 2(b). Hence, the petition was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Antonio De Matos Sequira Almeida v.  Felicidade Wilma Almeida, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1123, dated 04-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: While allowing an appeal, the Division Bench of S.K. Seth J., and Nandita Dubey J., decided a writ in which the appellant- wife sought information in regard to the salary of respondent 1- husband in reference to obtaining maintenance amount.

The brief facts of the case state that Respondent 1-husband held a very high officer position in the Telecommunication Department and was also earning an amount of Rs. 2,25,000 per month, whereas the appellant, an advocate though not in practice, was attaining an amount of Rs. 7000 as maintenance from her husband.

For the stated amount of maintenance, the appellant had filed an application under Section 91 of CrPC to obtain a direction in which the respondent was asked to submit his payslip so that correct maintenance amount could be calculated accordingly, but the trial court had rejected her application. Further an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 was submitted in quest of the same details as mentioned above, which eventually was taken to Central Information Commission. CIC had then asked the CPIO, BSNL to provide the said details.

Challenging the order of CIC, the only claim that was raised upon from the side of the respondent was that he was not given an “opportunity of hearing” which is the violation of principles of natural justice, for which the learned Single Judge had given an opportunity to hear and directions were issued to CIC for fresh appeal. In the second round of writ petition, the order of CIC to provide the information asked was challenged both by Respondent 1 and BSNL.

However, in accordance to Section 8(1) (j) of the said Act, “the information which has no relation to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy”, is exempted from being disclosed, the Court allowed the appeal by stating the fact that appellant is the wife of Respondent 1 which gave her the right and entitlement to know the remuneration of her husband. [Sunita Jain v. Pawan Kumar Jain, 2018 SCC OnLine MP 373, dated 15-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Bharati H. Dangre, J., has held that the Muslim Personal Law can in no way curtail the protection granted under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, from being available to a Muslim woman.

Brief facts of the case were that the respondent-wife had filed a petition for divorce against the husband under Section 2(viii)(a) and (d) of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, on grounds of cruelty. She also filed an application under the Domestic Violence Act for maintenance. The petitioner-husband filed objection to the application contending that he had already given talaq to the respondent after she filed the petition for divorce. He contended that the talaq was given by him in pursuance of the desire of the petitioner to get a divorce, as was evident by the petition filed by her; the said talaq should be considered as ‘khula’ (divorce by consent) and therefore according to the Muslim Personal Law that govern the parties, the respondent was not entitled to any maintenance as asked for by her.

The High Court observed that in the present case, the pronouncement of talaq was disputed by the wife and the husband will have to prove the said factum of talaq. As till the time the talaq was not proved, the respondent continued to be legally wedded wife of the petitioner and in that contingency, the question was whether the wife who was in a domestic relationship with the petitioner was entitled to seek relief under the DV Act.

After extensively considering various provisions of the DV Act as well as Acts concerning the rights of women under Muslim Personal Law, Hon’ble Court held that

“perusal of the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 would reveal that it is an enactment to provide for more effective protection for rights of women, guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, who are the victims of the violence … The definition and connotation of “Domestic Violence” under Section 3 of the enactment do not indicate any intention either express or implied to exclude Muslim women. Section 36 of the said enactment provides that the provisions of the Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.”

The Court held that the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law can in no way curtail the protection provided under Domestic Violence Act. As a result, the impugned order of the Family Court whereby the petitioner was ordered to pay maintenance under the provisions of the DV Act was upheld and the petition dismissed. [Ali Abbas Daruwala v. Shehnaz Daruwala,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1195, dated 04-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of K.N. Phaneendra, J., dismissed a petition preferred against the Order passed by the Family Judge whereby the petitioner (the husband) was directed to pay a sum of Rs. 10,000 p.m. to Respondent 1 (the daughter) and Rs. 5000 p.m. to Respondent 2 (the wife), towards maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

The wife and the daughter of the petitioner filed an application under Section 125 for claiming maintenance from him on the grounds that the petitioner had neglected and refused to maintain them; in spite of repeated requests, he did not make any arrangements for their welfare. Learned trial Court allowed the application and ordered the petitioner herein, to pay maintenance as mentioned hereinabove. The petitioner challenged the said Order of the trial Court in the instant petition.

The High Court perused the record and found that the husband and the wife had abandoned their conjugal company and they were not living together, and the wife and the daughter were living separately. It was also noted that the petitioner did not make any arrangements before the wife going to the Court for maintenance. The Court observed that under Section 125 CrPC, it is only to be seen that whether the husband has neglected the wife and refused to maintain her and the child; which was abundantly clear in the case at hand. Looking at the income of the petitioner and the admitted position regarding the expenditure required for proper living of the child and the wife, the Court held that the amount of maintenance as provided by the learned trial court did not call for any interference. Consequently, the Order impugned was upheld and the petition was dismissed. [Rahul v. Kaveri,2017 SCC OnLine Kar 452, order dated 12-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Bharati H. Dangre, J., decided a writ petition filed by the petitioner-mother, wherein maintenance was allowed to the unmarried adult daughter holding that such a child was entitled to maintenance from her father under Section 125 CrPC.

The petitioner and husband were married to each other but were living separately. The petitioner-mother filed the present petition on behalf of their unmarried major daughter (19 years of age), claiming maintenance for her. The question before the Court, inter alia, was whether an unmarried major daughter was entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC?

The High Court perused the section as well as decisions of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Court observed that under Section 125 of the CrPC it is only the minor child who is entitled to claim maintenance if such child is not able to maintain itself. A child who has attained majority is held entitled for claiming maintenance, if on account of physical or mental abnormality or injury he is unable to maintain himself. There is not any specific provision contained in Section 125 for grant of maintenance to a daughter who is major. However, considering decisions of the Supreme Court, the High Court held that the father cannot be extricated from his liability to maintain his unmarried daughter who is staying with his wife and he would be bound not only to maintain his unmarried daughter until her marriage. It was held that an unmarried daughter, though attained majority, is entitled to claim maintenance from the father under Section 125 of CrPC.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the application preferred by the petitioner was remanded to the family court for proper adjudication. [Agnes Lily Irudaya v.Irudaya Kani Arsan, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 617, order dated 6.4.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Vineet Kothari, J., decided a writ petition filed by the petitioner-wife under Article 227 of the Constitution, wherein the order of the trial court allowing her Rs. 17,000/- per month as maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, was upheld.

The parties were before the Family Court in a divorce petition. The abovesaid order allowing pendent lite maintenance was passed under Section 24 of HMA. The petitioner-wife submitted that she was not a working lady, whereas the respondent-husband was a software engineer and was earning Rs. 1,00,000 per month. She contended that the amount of maintenance granted by the court below was very low and needs to be increased.

On perusal of the record, the High Court found that even the petitioner was a highly qualified lady being a software engineer. And this fact was properly considered by the court below while appreciating the evidence and passing the impugned order. After considering this fact the trial court passed the order of maintenance for the wife as well as their son. The High Court was of the view that a highly qualified wife is capable of maintaining herself as well as the child. Therefore, the High Court did not find any error with the order passed by the trial court and accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Sandhya K. v. A. Manohar, WP No. 8216 of 2018 (GM-FC), decided on 8.3.2018]