Maintenance for Unmarried Major Daughters written by Surya Sunilkumar student of student of Ramaiah institute of legal studies
Abhilasha Vs Parkash & Ors (2020)
On 15th September 2020, the Hon’ble Supreme court held that an unmarried major daughter can claim maintenance from her father. The scope of applicability of maintenance under Sec 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974 was determined by this landmark case. This appeal challenged the order of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana as the court dismissed the application under Sec 482 Cr.Pc filed by the appellant regarding setting aside the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate First Class and Additional Sessions Judge, Rewari.
Facts of the case
The respondent in the appeal, mother of the appellant on behalf of her and on behalf of her daughter and two sons filed a maintenance suit under Sec.125 of Cr.P.C against her husband. The Judicial Magistrate First Class dismissed the application stating that the maintenance will be granted till the appellant attains the majority. Aggrieved by the decision of magistrate court the appellants filed a criminal revision petition in Additional Sessions Court which was dismissed, stating that Additional Sessions Judge held that as per provision of Section 125 Cr.P.C, the children, who had attained majority are entitled to maintenance if, because of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, they are unable to maintain themselves. Later again an appeal was filed by in High court under Sec 482 Cr.Pc and the court upheld the decision made by the Additional Sessions Judge Court. This Appeal was filed to challenge the decision taken by the High Court.
Rationale of Judgement
The Supreme Court decided the case on the following observation:
• The claim of the maintenance was filed when the appellant was a minor. The application of maintenance was allowed by the other Court till she attained the majority. After that, the contention was rejected stating that the appellant was not physically or mentally challenged. The counsel of the appellant relied on Sec 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956.
• Section 20 (3) of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 cast a statutory obligation on a Hindu to maintain his daughter who is unmarried and unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property. As noted above, Hindu Law prior to the enactment of Act, 1956 always obliged a Hindu to maintain an unmarried daughter, who is unable to
• The application was filed under Section 125 Cr.P.C. before Judicial Magistrate First Class. The Magistrate while deciding proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C. could not have exercised the jurisdiction under Section 20(3) of Act, 1956 and the submission of the appellant cannot be accepted that the Court below should have allowed the application for maintenance even though she has become major.
• The Supreme Court tried to examine the scope and applicability of Sec 125 of Cr.P.C concerning many cases. It discussed whether personal laws will prevail against the concept of maintenance for an unmarried major woman in procedural law.
• The Court held Family Court will in future have the jurisdiction to under both provisions i.e. Sec.125 for maintenance in the Criminal Procedural Code and Sec.20 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.
The maintenance interpreted under Section 20 is a broader concept whereas maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C is a narrow concept because it just provides immediate relief to the applicant. The Court thus held that a daughter who is an unmarried major and who doesn’t have the capacity to maintain herself can claim maintenance from her father. For enforcement of this right, the application or suit has to be under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956.
The court also held that the Judicial Magistrate First Class and the Additional Sessions have made no infirmity in deciding the case as it was not in its jurisdiction
The decision taken by the Court has given the liberty to a daughter to claim maintenance from her father. It should be observed that the Supreme Court has extended the jurisdiction of Family court as it can decide on the case where Sec 125 and Sec 20 of different Acts are compiled to seek justice.