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Women’s Commission Has No Power To Order Maintenance; Kerala HC Quashes Order That Directed Man To Pay ¾ Of Salary To Wife, Kids
Sreekumar vs Kerala Women's Commission and others
Kerala HC, Ernakulam Bench
WP(C).No. 41020 of 2017
About/from the judgment:
‘No power is granted to the Commission to issue directions with regard to the matters where specific provisions are made in other statutes and where the parties have appropriate remedies available on them.’
Quashing an order passed by the Women’s Commission asking a man to pay three-fourths of his salary to wife and children, the Kerala High Court in Sreekumar v. Kerala Women’s Commission has held that such a power is not conferred on it.
Sreekumar had approached the high court assailing commission’s order that he should pay three-fourth of his salary to his wife and two children to meet the expenses for remitting the housing loan installments and for their livelihood and education.
Relying on a Delhi High Court decision in Bhupinder Singh v. Delhi Commission for Women, he contended that the Women’s Commission has no power to order maintenance.
Justice Anu Sivaraman referred to Section 16 of the Kerala Women’s Commission Act, and observed that no such power is granted to the commission.
“The power to decide issues regarding payment of maintenance stands specifically provided for under the provisions of Section 125 to 127 Cr.P.C and the issue requires adjudication in appropriate proceedings. Provisions are incorporated in personal laws as well as Family Courts Act to consider issues with regard to maintenance of spouses and children. Going by the provisions of the Kerala Women’s Commission Act, 1990, no power is granted to the Commission to issue directions with regard to the matters where specific provisions are made in other statutes and where the parties have appropriate remedies available on them,” the court observed.
Quashing the order, the court granted liberty to wife to approach the appropriate court.
In Bhupinder Singh, the Delhi High Court had, on similar facts, held: “While it is true that the Commission by virtue of Section 10(3) has been vested with all the powers of a civil court in carrying out an investigation with regard to the matters relating to safeguards provided for women under the constitution and other laws as also with regard to the matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights, there is, however, no power granted to the Commission to pass orders and or directions for maintenance. These powers are vested in the courts, both civil and criminal. The rights and obligations in respect of maintenance pertaining to parties, who are Hindus, are to be determined under the Hindu Maintenance and Adoption Act, 1956. Such matters are to be adjudicated by a civil court. Recognizing the fact that such an adjudication may take some time, the legislature has enacted Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to provide immediate relief to such persons who deserve maintenance as an interim measure till the civil court decides the entire disputes with regard to maintenance.”
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