Major Unmarried Daughter not entitled to claim maintenance under section 125 CrPC.
The Supreme Court while hearing a criminal appeal today has held that a daughter who attained majority and is still unmarried is not entitled to claim maintenance, if she is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality/injury, from her father in proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C.
The three judge bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Subhash Reddy, Justice M.R. Shah held that unmarried Hindu daughter can claim maintenance from her father till she is married relying on Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, provided she pleads and proves that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other properties, for which her application/suit has to be filed under Section 20 of Act.
The legislature never considered to burden the Magistrate when exercising power under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. for determination of claims under the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956.
The contention of the appellant in this case was that as per Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956, a person has an obligation to maintain his/her daughter, who is unmarried, extends till she is able to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property. The appellant, when she was a minor, had filed an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. before Judicial Magistrate First Class, Rewari. The Magistrate disposed the application limiting the claim of the appellant to claim maintenance till she attains majority. The Additional Session Judge in revision petition also upheld the order passed by the Magistrate. The order of Magistrate and order passed in revision was challenged by the appellant before High Court. The order of lower court was upheld by the High Court also.
The appellant filed a criminal Appeal before the Supreme Court. The issue before the Apex court was was whether a Hindu unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father under Section 125 Cr.P.C. only till she attains majority or she can claim maintenance till she remains unmarried? The appellant pleaded that even though she is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality or injury still by virtue of section 20 (3) of HAMA, 1956 she is entitle to claim maintenance till she is unmarried and unable to maintain herself. The applicant placed reliance on the judgment in case of Jagdish Jugtawat Vs. Manju Lata and Others, (2002) 5 SCC 422.
Section 20(3) of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 is nothing but recognition of principles of Hindu Law regarding maintenance of children and aged parents. Section 20(3) now makes it statutory obligation of a Hindu to maintain his or her daughter, who is unmarried and is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property.
Section 20 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 enactment of Act, 1956 always obliged a Hindu to maintain unmarried daughter, who is unable to maintain herself. The obligation, which is cast on the father to maintain his unmarried daughter, can be enforced by her against her father, if she is unable to maintain herself by enforcing her right under Section 20.
The provision of Section 20 of Act, 1956 cast clear statutory obligation on a Hindu to maintain his unmarried daughter who is unable to maintain herself. The right of unmarried daughter under Section 20 to claim maintenance from her father when she is unable to maintain herself is absolute and the right given to unmarried daughter under Section 20 is right granted under personal law, which can very well be enforced by her against her father. The judgment of this Court in Jagdish Jugtawat (supra) laid down that Section 20(3) of Act, 1956 recognised the right of a minor girl to claim maintenance after she attains majority till her marriage from her father. Unmarried daughter is clearly entitled for maintenance from her father till she is married even though she has become major, which is a statutory right recognised by Section 20(3) and can be enforced by unmarried daughter in accordance with law.
The court also cited judgment in case of Nanank Chand Vs. Chandra Kishore Aggarwal and Others, (1969) 3 SCC 802 in which the apex court held that that there is no inconsistency between Section 488 Cr.P.c. and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act and both can stand together. This Court further held that Section 488 Cr.P.C. provides a summary remedy and is applicable to all persons belonging to all religions and has no relationship with the personal law of the parties.
The Bench Headed by Justice Ashok bhushan after hearing the arguments of buth the parties held that:
The purpose and object of Section 125 Cr.P.C. as noted above is to provide immediate relief to applicant in a summary proceedings, whereas right under Section 20 read with Section 3(b) of Act, 1956 contains larger right, which needs determination by a Civil Court, hence for the larger claims as enshrined under Section 20, the proceedings need to be initiated under Section 20 of the Act and the legislature never contemplated to burden the Magistrate while exercising jurisdiction under Section 125 Cr.P.C. to determine the claims contemplated by Act, 1956.
The Supreme Court gives liberty to the Appelant to take recourse to Section 20(3) of the Act, 1956 for claiming any maintenance against her father. The Appeal stands accordingly dismissed.