Can a Magistrate after rejecting a plea seeking maintenance under Domestic Violence Act assume jurisdiction under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and grant maintenance?
This was the issue before the Apex Court in P. Rajkumar vs. Yoga @ Yogalakshmi, in which it answered in the negative.
In this case, the claim for maintenance under section 20 of the Act was specifically negatived by the judicial magistrate. But, in the same proceedings, he simultaneously ordered for maintenance in a pending proceeding under section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure over which he had no jurisdiction. As the Madras High Court upheld this order of the Magistrate, the husband assailed it before the Apex Court.
Disapproving this approach, the bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice BR Gavai observed:
Once the learned Magistrate declined to grant maintenance for reasons specified, it was not open for him to assume jurisdiction in a proceeding under section 125 of the Cr.P.C. which was not pending before him and was a completely independent proceeding to direct grant of maintenance under the same. The two being independent proceedings, the learned Magistrate wrongly assumed jurisdiction under Section 125 Cr.P.C in a proceeding under the Act. In effect, what the magistrate directly declined to the respondent, he granted indirectly by observing that till the proceedings under section 125 of Cr.P.C. is not decided, the appellants shall pay maintenance at a rate of Rs.2,000/- per month to the respondent. The order is without jurisdiction and therefore wholly unjustified and unsustainable
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