While allowing the Special Leave Petition in a matter concerning a wife’s and a minor daughter’s right to maintenance, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Chelameswar and S.A. Bobde upheld the view that it is completely justified to grant maintenance with effect from the date of the application. In the instant case, the appellant wife had left her work during her marriage and there was no prima facie evidence of her income during the said period. The court while reversing the order of the High Court maintained the maintenance amount as granted under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 by the inferior courts but ruled that it should be paid from the date of application.
Placing reliance upon Shail Kumari Devi v. Krishan Bhagwan Pathak, the bench referred to the reasoning that it was allowed for a magistrate to grant maintenance from the date of application and not from the date of order in certain circumstances arising in the case. It is noteworthy that Section 125 of the Cr.P.C., which talks about maintenance requires the Court to consider making the order for maintenance effective from either of the two dates, having regard to the relevant facts and should cite reasonable grounds in the support of its decision. It is an expressed provision and leaves no room for doubt, S. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure reads as:
125. “Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents.
(1) If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain-
(a) his wife, unable to maintain herself, or
(b) his legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not,unable to maintain itself, or
(c) his legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority, where such child is, by reason of any physical ormental abnormality or injury unable to maintain itself, or
(d) his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself, a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal,order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child, father or mother, at such monthly rate, as such Magistrate thinks fit, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct:
Provided that the Magistrate may order the father of a minor female child referred to in clause (b) to make such allowance, until she attains her majority, if the Magistrate is satisfied that the husband of such minor female child, if married, is not possessed of sufficient means:
Provided further that the Magistrate may, during the pendency of the proceeding regarding monthly allowance for the maintenance under this sub-section, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the interim maintenance of his wife or such child, father or mother, and the expenses of such proceeding which the Magistrate considers reasonable, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct:
Provided also that an application for the monthly allowance for the interim maintenance and expenses of proceeding under the second proviso shall, as far as possible, be disposed of within sixty days from the date of the service of notice of the application to such person.”
Nevertheless, the honourable court did not interfere with the maintenance sum of Rs 5000 set by the High Court. Evidently prior to this, the family court had only granted the minor daughter a sum of 5000, the family court had opined that since the appellant wife was working before her marriage, she was fully capable of working after the separation and was subsequently denied maintenance. But the High Court rejected this view and granted the sum of Rs 5000 each as maintenance with effect from the date of order. However, this was challenged in the instant appeal by way of special leave to make it from the date of application and the SC allowed the appeal.
Read the judgment here