The Bombay High Court, in Agnes Lily Irudaya v Irudaya Kani Arsan, has held that the unmarried daughter though the attained majority is entitled to claim maintenance from the father.
In this case, the mother had approached the family court claiming maintenance from her husband for daughter who had turned major but IS unmarried, for meeting her educational expenses. The family court dismissed her application on the ground that maintenance can be granted to minor children only and the major daughter cannot claim maintenance through her mother. This order was assailed before the high court.
Justice Bharati H Dangre agreed with the contention of the petitioner relying on decisions of the apex court in Noor Saba Kahtoon v Mohd. Quasim and that of the Bombay High Court in Vijaykumar Jagdishrai Chawla v Reeta Vijaykumar Chawla. In both these cases, though the daughter attained majority, she was held entitled to claim maintenance from her father as the family (personal) law make her entitled to claim maintenance from her parents till she attains majority.
The court further referred to apex court judgment in Jagdish Jugtawat vs. Manju Lata and ors which held that the right of a minor girl for maintenance from parents after attaining majority till her marriage is recognized in Section 20 (3) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act.
The court has not referred to provisions of personal law of Roman Catholics (the family belong to that community), which recognizes the entitlement of an unmarried adult daughter for maintenance from father, though it quoted the judgments which recognized such entitlements under Hindu and Muslim Personal Laws.
The other objection raised in this case was that a mother is not competent to file proceedings claiming maintenance on behalf of her major daughter. The court brushed aside the said contention observing that it is ‘hypertechnical’. The court added that this technical objection cannot come in the way of granting substantive relief in favour of the mother to claim an amount of maintenance for meeting the expenses of her daughter's education.
“Even if the daughter would have filed the proceedings, the parameters for deciding her entitlement would have been the neglect and refusal of the father to pay for the educational expenses and other expenses of the daughter. The daughter can be a competent person to file her own application claiming maintenance. However, in order to avoid multiplicity of the proceeding, no fault can be found in the application preferred by the mother claiming maintenance with a view to meet the expenses of the daughter, since the wife has not claimed maintenance for herself and she has not denied the factum of her employment,” the court said.