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Right to Maintenance (Law)
To combat the social injustice and prevent the neglected people from falling into destitution, a universal legal weapon has been provided under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, which is not bound by the shackles of caste and religion and vests the right to claim maintenance for those people.
Who can claim maintenance under Sec. 125?
- Wife: Under Hindu law, for wife to claim maintenance, marriage should have been solemnized in accordance with the Hindu rites and ritualsand be valid under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Under Muslim law, women have the right to claim maintenance even after the conclusion of her iddat period.But marriage should be valid under Muslim Personal law.
Place of claim – where husband or wife resides or where the husband is physically present currently or where husband last resided with his wife.
- Children: Both legitimate and illegitimate male and female children can file for maintenance until they reach the age of majority. But adult unmarried daughters can claim for maintenance from their fathers.
- Parents: Mother and father can also claim maintenance from any of their children or all of them.
Place of Claim –where they reside or the child resides.
Important Points to remember while claiming maintenance:
- The person claiming maintenance should be incapable or unqualified to earn.
- The person must have neglected the claiming party or refused to pay maintenance.
- Burden of proof lies upon the husband that he did not refuse or neglect to pay maintenance.
- The standard of living matters the most. Husband is legally obliged to restore the previous (before separation) standard of living off her wife. It should not be more or less than the amount required to restore the same.
- The interpretation of live-in relationships has shifted from a casual look to a serious one where a valid marriage may be presumed.
- Maintenance is usually on a monthly basis.
- A financially unsound or physically incapable person would not be forced to provide remuneration.
- Proceedings u/s 125 are civil in nature.
Filing claim for Maintenance under Sec. 125 (Process):
- The claim for maintenance is filed before the Judicial Magistrate 1st
- The period of limitation is 1 year from the date the maintenance fell due.
Grounds of Rejection of Claim:
- If the woman has committed adultery;
- If she was living separately from her husband without any just cause;
- If she has remarried;
- If both of them were living separately with mutual consent;
- If she was aware of her husband’s first marriage which is still in force.
Statutory law References:
Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
Chanmuniya v. ChanmuniyaVirendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha and Anr (2011) 1 SCC 141
Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum 1985 SCR (3) 844
DanialLatifi v. Union of India2001 (7) SCC 740
Shah Bano v. Imran Khan AIR 2010 SC 740
MansiVohra v. Ramesh Vohra CRL.M.C. 2474/2012
If not complied with the order for maintenance, the court-
- can issue a warrant for levying the amount due;
- can attach the property and sell to recover such due amount;
- mayaward imprisonment for a maximum of 1 month after the execution of the warrant or until payment if sooner made.
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