What is maintenance?
A person is entitled to basic amenities of life like food, clothing, shelter and other necessary requirements to live a dignified life. Under the principles of social justice, it is the natural duty of a man to provide these amenities to his wife, parents and children in form of maintenance. The Indian law laws down the duty of a man to provide maintenance to his parents, wife and children when they are unable to maintain themselves.
Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lays down the concept of maintenance in India, along with the different personal laws that extend the right of maintenance to not only the wife but also to the parents, children as well as divorced wife.
Maintenance in law is defined as the amount which is paid to dependent wife, child or parents to maintain themselves. The amount can be paid either by doing one lump sum payment or by way of monthly installments.
Maintenance in Indian Law
Maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 is provided as a right of a wife to claim it from her husband. A wife can file a maintenance case in India under the act against her husband when she is unable to maintain herself financially.
Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956
Section 18: Maintenance of wife
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Hindu wife, whether married before or after the
commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime.
(2) A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to
(a) If he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without reasonable
cause and without her consent or against her wish, or of willfully neglecting her;
(b) If he has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in
her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband;
(c) If he is suffering from a virulent from of leprosy;
(d) If he has any other wife living ;
(e) If he keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife is living or habitually
resides with a concubine elsewhere;
(f) if he has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion ;
(g) if there is any other cause justifying her living separately;
(3) A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if
she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.
The words “wife or widow” in the context of marriage, succession or maintenance enactments are of restrictive
legal character and imply relationship which is not recognised by land-Rajesh Bai v. Santha Bai 1982 HLR 445.
A man marrying a second time, during the lifetime of his wife, second wife though, having no knowledge of the first marriage, is not entitled to claim maintenance under s, 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as she was
not legally wedded wife and for that the marriage was void.-Jamuna Bai v.Anant Rao 1988 Cr LJ 793.
There is no forum provided under the Act so as to claim maintenance. Maintenance can only be claimed through regular suit.-Krishan Lal v. Sudershan Kumari 1979 HLR 576.
Code of Criminal Procedure
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 or mental 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.
Hindu Marriage Act
Section 24. Maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings.-
Where in any proceeding under this Act it appears to the Court that either the wife
or the husband, as the case may be, has no independent income sufficient for her
or his support and the necessary expenses of the proceeding, it may, on the
application of the wife or the husband, order the respondent to pay the petitioner
the expenses of the proceeding such sum as, having regard to the petitioner’s own
income and the income of the respondent, it may seem to the Court to be
25. Permanent alimony and maintenance.-(1) Any court exercising jurisdiction
under this Act may, at the time of passing any decree or at any time subsequent
thereto, on application made to it for the purposes by either the wife or the
husband, as the case may be, order that the respondent shall pay to the applicant
for her or his maintenance and support such gross sum or such monthly or
periodical sum for a term not exceeding the life of the applicant as, having regard
to the respondent’s own income and other property of the applicant, the conduct of
the parties and other circumstances of the case, it may seem to the Court to be
just, and any such payment may be secured, if necessary, by a charge on the
immoveable property of the respondent.
(2) If the Court is satisfied that there is a change in the circumstances of either
party at any time after it has made an order under sub-section (1), it may at the
instance of either party, vary, modify or rescind any such order in such manner as
the court may deem just.
(3) If the Court is satisfied that the party in whose favour an order has been made
under this Section has re-married or, if such party is the wife, that she has not
remained chaste or if such party is the husband, that he has had sexual intercourse
with any woman outside wedlock, it may at the instance of the other party vary,
modify or rescind any such order in such manner as the court may deem just.
THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005
Section 20. Monetary reliefs.—(1) While disposing of an application under sub-section (1) of section 12, the Magistrate may direct the respondent to pay monetary relief to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of the aggrieved person as a result of the domestic
violence and such relief may include, but not limited to,—
(a) the loss of earnings;
(b) the medical expenses;
(c) the loss caused due to the destruction, damage or removal of any property from the control of the aggrieved person; and
(d) the maintenance for the aggrieved person as well as her children, if any, including an order under or in addition to an order of maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) or any other law for the time being in force.