Unmarried daughter major by age is entitled to claim maintenance from father till her marriage

Sanjay J Phagnekar Vs State of Maharashtra

Bombay HC

23/11/2020

Criminal Application No. 50 of 2020

About/from the judgment:

The High Court while setting aside the orders pronounced by the Courts below observed that,

 

"the law already gives a remedy to claim maintenance to a daughter under the provisions of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act even if she is a major by age and unmarried and dependent on her father."

 

The instant application was moved by the applicant–father under the provision of Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 questioning the Judicial Magistrate's Order allowing interim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

 

Applicant's Counsel, Runwal invited the Court's attention to Section 125 of CrPC, particularly clause (b) & (c) of sub-section 1.

 

According to the counsel, the father has an obligation to maintain the daughter who is not married, however, the said provision does not confer any right in major daughter to claim an interim after such daughter attains majority and if she is physically or mentally not suffering from any abnormality or injury.

 

Court's attention to the provisions of Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act was also invited. Further, he relied on the decision of Supreme Court in Abhilasha v. Prakash, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 736.

 

Respondent — Daughter urged that the act of trial court of not deciding the application for maintenance for years together cannot be viewed or come to the help of the applicant particularly when Statute contemplates an obligation on the applicant-father to pay maintenance to a minor daughter pursuant to the provisions of Section 125(1) of CrPC.

 

Analysis and Decision

 

If the scheme of clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 125 of CrPC is considered, what is appreciated is, legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority who by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, if unable to maintain herself, can claim maintenance from father or a person who has sufficient means and who has neglected or refused to maintain.

 

What is required to be appreciated in the instant case is that even if the respondent — daughter who has attained majority and she is already getting expenses as was ordered in proceedings under the Hindu Marriage Act and interim maintenance.

 

In accordance with the Supreme Court decision in Abhilasha v. Prakash, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 736, it was made clear that under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, right of an unmarried daughter to claim maintenance from her father when she is unable to maintain herself is absolute. Such right is granted under the personal law which such daughter has every right in law to enforce against her father. As such, right under Sub-section 3 of Section 20 of the said provisions is recognized to be existing to claim maintenance after she attains majority till her marriage, from her father.

 

"Unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father till she is married even though she has become major which right is recognized under Section 20 (3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act."

 

Court stated that a daughter can claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act even if she is major by age and unmarried and dependent on her father.

 

Magistrate failed to appreciate the above-stated intricacies of the provisions of Section 125(1)(c) of CrPC and right of a daughter under Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.

 

Further, the Bench observed that the Courts below committed an error in awarding interim maintenance to major daughter in the exercise of powers under Section 125 CrPC.

 

Hence, in view of the above, the present application needs to be allowed.

Read the Judgment

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