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Obligation of Divorced Husband to Provide Maintenance to Ex-Wife and Child: Madras High Court in C.Lakshmanan vs Mrs.Indumathi

Charchit Pathak ,
  01 June 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
Madras High Court
Brief :

Citation :
Crl.R.C.No.1057 of 2014

Case title:

C.Lakshmanan vs Mrs.Indumathi

Date of Order:

17.04.2017

Bench:

Hon’ble Justice Mr. V.Bharathidasan

Parties:

Petitioner: C.Lakshmanan

Respondent: Mrs.Indumathi

SUBJECT

The Madras High Court in this case of Maintenance and divorce dismissed the petition which is on the basis of that the petitioner is unable to pay maintenance because of less income and the respondent herself deserted him so she is not entitled to receive the maintenance. However, the Court directed the petitioner to pay the maintenance to the respondent.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

  • Section 397: Revision powers of High Court/Sessions Court to review and modify orders or judgments passed by lower courts.
  • Section 125(4): Allows Magistrate to order maintenance for a wife, children, or parents. Non-compliance can lead to imprisonment.
  • Section 125(1): Requires a person with sufficient means to provide maintenance to their wife, children, or parents who are unable to maintainance themselves.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • Section 13: Specifies grounds for divorce in Hindu Marriage Act, including adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion, mental illness, and others. Court can grant divorce if these conditions are met.

BRIEF FACTS

  • In this case, the petitioner disputed the request for maintenance, disputing the accusations of cruelty and asserting that the first respondent was the one who had argued with him and left the marital home on her own. The first respondent and her family members, he said, abused him and threatened to drive him away despite his attempts at reconciliation. The first respondent's pay was also questioned by the petitioner, who stated that he only received a salary of Rs. 14,000 per month rather than the purported Rs. 30,000.
  • The petitioner further notified the court that, as of August 16, 2012, he had received an ex parte divorce order following the filing of a petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. He maintained that the divorce judgement precluded maintainance for the first respondent, who willfully abandoned him without explanation.
  • The lower court took the facts into account and awarded the first respondent and the second respondent a combined maintenance payment of Rs. 6,000 per month (Rs. 4,000 for the first respondent and Rs. 2,000 for the second respondent). Dissatisfied with this order, the petitioner filed the present criminal revision case to challenge it.

ISSUE RAISED

  • Whether the first respondent is entitled to maintenance from the petitioner after their divorce, and if so, from what date the maintenance should be payable? 

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER

  • The Learned Counsel on the behalf of the petitioner vehemently mentioned that, it was the first respondent who quarrelled with him and left the house on her own. He also contended that he was earning a salary of Rs.14,000 per month, contrary to the respondents' claim of his higher income. 
  • The petitioner also contended the maintenance amount granted by the lower court was high considering his income. It was further argued that, that since the first respondent had voluntarily deserted him; she was not entitled to maintenance.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The Learned Counsel on the behalf of respondent mentioned that, the petitioner and the first respondent got married on May 25, 2008, and they had a son together.
  • The respondents claimed that the petitioner started quarrelling and demanding dowry from the first respondent's family. In 2009, the petitioner allegedly drove the first respondent and their son out of the matrimonial house, after which they sought maintenance. 
  • It was also mentioned by the learned Counsel that the petitioner had sufficient means as he was working as a constable and earning a salary of Rs. 18,000 per month. The court also found that the respondents were living in the parental house and unable to maintain themselves

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • According to the court, Section 125(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure required the petitioner to pay the respondents' maintenance. The Court noticed that the petitioner, a policeman in the Central Industrial Security Force, had enough money to keep the respondents in good condition. The court further noted that the respondents could not support themselves and were staying in the first respondent's parents' home.
  • The wife continued to be treated as the petitioner's wife for the purposes of requesting maintenance even though the marriage had officially terminated with the divorce judgement, according to the statement. The petitioner was ordered to pay the wife's back maintenance beginning on the date of the divorce judgement after the court dropped the criminal revision case. In accordance with the lower court's ruling, the son's maintenance payment had to be calculated. 
  • Therefore, the Court dismissed the petitioner’s petition and directed him to pay the past maintenance to the first respondent from the date of divorce decree. 

CONCLUSION

The respondents, the petitioner's wife and minor son, filed a plea for maintenance in the Madras High Court case of C. Lakshmanan vs. Mrs. Indumathi. The lower court awarded the wife and son a combined maintenance payment of Rs. 6,000 per month (Rs. 4,000 for the woman and Rs. 2,000 for the kid). This ruling was contested by the petitioner in a criminal revision action. The petitioner claimed that because the divorce was granted owing to cruelty and desertion, the wife was not entitled to support. The court decided that the wife's maintenance rights as a divorced woman did not change notwithstanding the divorce. The petitioner was ordered to start paying the wife support as of the divorce judgement date after the court dismissed the revision case.

 
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