Husband May Beg, Borrow Or Steal To Maintain Wife And Child: Punjab and Haryana HC [Read Order]

Husband May Beg, Borrow Or Steal To Maintain Wife And Child: Punjab and Haryana HC [Read Order]

“The first and foremost duty of the husband is to maintain the wife and the child. He may beg, borrow or steal.” This remark has again found its place in a recent Punjab and Haryana High Court order.

The above remark is seen quoted in a recent order by Justice HS Madaan while dismissing plea of a man challenging a family court order jailing him for not paying the maintenance to his wife. But, in fact, it was made by Justice Jitendra Chauhan in his order of the year 2013.

In the present case, the family court had sentenced the man to undergo civil imprisonment for 12 months on account of non-payment of arrears of maintenance allowance amounting to Rs 91,000 to his wife.

He approached the high court contending that he could be sentenced to undergo civil imprisonment for one month only. Rejecting the said argument, the bench referred to an earlier judgment (Sunit Kumar vs. Rita), which had had held that it is open to order sentence up to a maximum of one month for each month of default committed by the person ordered to pay maintenance and that the maximum limit of sentence of one month referred to in sub-section (3) of section 125 of the Code will be applicable for each month of default.

In the said case, it was also observed thus: “Sentencing a person to jail is a 'mode of enforcement'. It is not a 'mode of satisfaction' of the liability. The liability can be satisfied only by making actual payment of the arrears. The whole purpose of sending to jail is to oblige a person liable to pay the monthly allowance, who refuses to comply with the order without sufficient cause, to obey the order and to make the payment. The purpose of sending him to jail is not to wipe out the liability which he has refused to discharge. Monthly allowance is paid in order to enable the wife and child to live by providing with the essential economic necessities. Neither the neglected wife nor the neglected child can live without funds for purchasing food and the essential articles to enable them to survive. The first and foremost duty of the husband is to maintain the wife and the child. He may beg, borrow or steal.”

Referring to the said judgment, the court dismissed the petition.

Read the Order Here