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Maintenance under Various Laws
Maintenance is a source of social justice in and of itself. If a man's wife, children, parents, close relatives, and other dependents are unable to maintain themselves, it is his fundamental duty to provide for them. The aim of maintenance is to prevent immorality and destitution while also improving the economic circumstances of women and children. Hindu women in India are subject to two types of maintenance rules.
Child support is considered in the first category in the case of a divorce or other matrimonial remedy, such as nullity of marriage. Maintenance can be claimed by Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 in the first category, while maintenance to the wife, parents, and children can be claimed under Section 125 of the CrPC and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956 in the second.
Maintenance under various laws
The three legislations under which maintenance can be sought are −
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
Sections 125 to 128 deal with CrPC maintenance proceedings. Section 125 ensures that women, children, and parents in need of financial assistance get speedy justice. The purpose of this provision was to prevent vagrancy and destitution through a brief remedy. Who is eligible to claim Maintenance under Section 125?
Wife who is able to maintain herself
Minor children, whether legitimate or illegitimate, married or unmarried, who are unable to maintain themselves
Daughter who is married (if the husband is not able to maintain her)
Father or mother unable to maintain themselves
The petition for maintenance can be considered by a court magistrate of the first class. Any other magistrate's order is null and void.
Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
A Hindu wife can claim maintenance under either one of these laws or under any two of these laws simultaneously.
Sections 24 and 25 of the HMA, 1955, deal with maintenance
Section 24 Interim Maintenance
Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 allows both men and women to claim maintenance. Section 24 allows the husband to seek maintenance if he can show that he has no independent source of income or is mentally or physically handicapped. This section's object was to provide alimony to the weaker party. The court cannot refuse to give interim maintenance because the petitioner is unlikely to succeed on the main issue. Section 24 empowers the court to award the petitioner two specific reliefs −
Expenses paid in the proceedings for which relief is sought
During the proceedings, you will receive a monthly maintenance allowance.
It was held in the case of Rita Mago v. V.P. Mago, AIR 1977 Del 176, that the parties could not apply for interim maintenance after the court had issued the decree; the relief would be valid only while the proceedings were ongoing.
Section 25 Permanent Maintenance
Permanent maintenance is covered under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. Under Section 25, the court can grant both spouses the right to claim permanent alimony. Section 25(1) allows the court to provide maintenance in the following cases −
A gross sum
A monthly sum
A periodic sum for a term not exceeding the life of the application
It was held in the case of Amar Kanta Sen v. Sovana Sen, AIR 1960 Cal 438, that even if the wife is living in adultery or unchastity, she has been given starving maintenance. It was also said that if she is able to maintain herself, there is no need for any type of maintenance to be provided.
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act
Section 18 − Section 18 covers provisions for the maintenance of the wife −
A Hindu wife is entitled to a lifetime maintenance allowance from her husband.
A Hindu wife may live separately without sacrificing her claim to maintenance.
If a Hindu wife is unchaste or converts to another religion, she is not entitled to maintenance.
Purpose of Maintenance Laws in India
The legal scope of the Maintenance Act is intended to fulfill a social purpose. These provisions are included in sections 125 to 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, as well as in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005 and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 both provide for the protection of women from domestic violence.
Article 39 of the Constitution also states that the state shall, in particular, direct its policies towards ensuring that citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood, that children are provided with opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.
Difference between Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act and Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act
The following table highlights the major differences among these provisions −
|Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955||Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973||Section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956|
|Either spouse can claim maintenance.||Only wife can claim maintenance.||Only wife can claim maintenance.|
|Definition of wife is expansive.||Definition of wife is narrow||Definition of wife is narrow|
|There is no time limit to claim this maintenance under this section.||During the pendency of the trial and the passing of the decree||There is no time limit to claim this maintenance under this section.|
|The wife can claim maintenance and live separately.||A wife or husband can claim maintenance but can live separately only after the decree of divorce or judicial separation.||The wife can claim maintenance and live separately.|
|Only the wife in a legal marriage can claim maintenance.||A wife or husband of either a legal or void marriage can claim maintenance.||Only the wife in a legal marriage can claim maintenance.|
|Better provision compared to the other two||-||-|
It is evident now, based on recent judicial decisions, that courts in India have grown progressively liberal in deciding maintenance issues. The main issue here is whether the illicit partner of a married partner is entitled to maintenance or not. Even if it appears that the same is possible based on personal law decisions, judicial decisions under Section 125 clearly declare that only a legally wedded wife can seek maintenance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Can a wife claim maintenance after permanent alimony?
Ans. A woman cannot claim maintenance after mutual consent divorce if she was granted one-time permanent alimony at the time of mutual consent divorce and received it as full and final settlement.
Q2. What is maintenance under Section 125 of the CRPC case laws?
Ans. The wife, child, and parents are provided for under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. If a party invokes Section 125 of the Code, the court may order the respondent, that is, the husband, to support the wife, who is unable to support herself, by providing her monthly maintenance.
Q3. How much maintenance does a wife need after divorce?
Ans. If alimony is paid in monthly payments, the Supreme Court of India has decided that the husband must pay the wife 25% of his net monthly salary. If alimony is paid in the form of a lump sum, it usually ranges from 1/5th to 1/3rd of the husband's total worth.
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