Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 initially dealt with the provisions of granting maintenance. The Hindu Marriage Act was formed in the year 1955 and applies specifically on individuals who are Hindus including Sikh, Jains and Buddhists and persons who come under the ambit of Section 2 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Also children whose either of a parent is a Hindu, Sikh, Jains or Buddhist and are brought up under the same religion will also be considered as a Hindu and will be entitled to maintenance. Under old Hindu law, a Hindu male was under an obligation to maintain the following persons:
- His wife,
- Unmarried daughter,
- Legitimate sons,
- Illegitimate sons, and
- Aged parents.
Obligation To Maintain Wife-
Section 24 and Section 25 of the said act deals with the provisions of allowing pendente lite and permanent maintenance respectively. In Dr. Kulbhushan v/s Raj Kumari and Anr, the court while deciding the amount of maintenance observed that it is determined based on the facts of each case and declared that if the court enhances or moulds the amount of maintenance, then such a decision would be justified. It was further held in this case that it would be fair to provide wife with 25% of husband’s net salary as maintenance.
- Under Section 24 of the act if the court considers fit and is satisfied that either wife or husband does not have an independent income, then it can order the respondent to pay the maintenance to the petitioner in accordance with the provisions of this Section. Thus, the claimant can be a husband as well.
- Further, according to the provisions of Section 25 of the Act, which deals with the granting of alimony on a permanent basis, the court may on the application made by the respondent , order to provide for maintenance either in the form of periodical payments or a gross sum to be provided. Thus, in this case as well the respondent can either be a wife or a husband.
- The purpose of interpreting the provision in this way is to avoid the discrimination because both husband and wife are equal in the eyes of law.
Obligation To Maintain Children And Parents-
Section 26 of the same act deals with the custody, maintenance and education of minor children. Court may, as it considers necessary and deems fit, from time to time pass interim orders in this regard and at the same time has the power to revoke, suspend or vary such an order. Obligation to maintain lies on both father and mother of the child or on either of the parents as ordered by the court. Section 20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 lays down an obligation on a hindu male or female to maintain their legitimate/ illegitimate minor children and aged/ infirm parents, the amount of which is to be determined by the competent court on the following factors-:
- Economic position and status of the litigating parties.
- Reasonable wants and needs of the parties.
- Dependence of the parties, etc.
In Sukhjinder singh saini v/s Harvinder kaur, certain observations were made by the Delhi High Court while dealing with the issue of deciding the maintenance to be granted for a child:
- Both the parents have a legal, social and a moral obligation to maintain their children and provide them with the best standard of living, depending on the financial footing of the parties.
- They are equally obligated to provide means for best education.
- It was further held that even if the child is living with the spouse whose income is sufficient enough to maintain the child cannot be taken as a good ground by the other spouse of not maintaining the child or taking care of the child’s welfare.
Maintenance Under Section 125 Cr.P.C-
According to this Section magistrate of first class has the power to order the person to provide monthly allowance to:
- His parents,
- Wife, or
- To his legitimate or illegitimate minor children who are unable to maintain themselves
- Legitimate or illegitimate major child not being a married daughter, who are unable to maintain themselves due to any physical injury or abnormality
- Married daughter till she attains her majority if her husband is unable to maintain her
- His or her father or mother if they are unable to maintain themselves,whoever neglects or refuses to do so.
Magistrate may issue warrants for levying the amount due, in case of non-compliance with the order. Making of an application is mandatory to the court for levying such amount within a period of one year from the date on which the amount was due, otherwise warrant cannot be issued.
From the plethora of judgements it can be concluded that Section 125 of Cr.P.C provides for stringent means to comply with the provisions of maintenance. It not only breaks the barrier of religion which acts as a hurdle in providing justice to people but also provides for equal protection of law and justice for all irrespective of religion followed by an individual. Religion cannot overcome the principles of “justice” and “equity”. The concept of maintenance is interpreted in different ways under different statutory provisions yet the purpose of it is to grant support. Thus, Code of Criminal Procedure through Section 125 aims at providing individuals following different religions to seek alimony through a uniform way.