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Maintenance In India, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act provides for claiming maintenance under certain circumstances. Maintenance in simple words means sustenance. In order to maintain the flow of life a person needs a support and the law recognizes Maintenance as a right available to a dependent wife, children, parents, daughter-in-law in such situations when one is not capable of supporting oneself. Can Maintenance be claimed in an independent Proceedings ? The Criminal Procedure code, 1973 under section 125 provides that any person having sufficient means if neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, children, parents who are not able to sustain themselves, then a Magistrate can pass orders for maintenance of wife, children and parents.

However there is no forum provided under the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act to claim maintenance and the necessary implication of the same is that it can be claimed through a regular suit. Under the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, Maintenance can also be claimed as an additional relief upon filing of a suit seeking divorce, restitution of conjugal rights or judicial separation etc. Under the laws governing the marriage under the Hindu system if the husband is ready to cohabit with the wife, generally, the claim of wife is overthrown. However a Hindu wife is entitled to reside separately from her husband without forfeiting her right of maintenance under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. The Act provides certain situations when its practically impossible for a wife to continue to reside and cohabit with the husband but due to social stigma and pressures she may not be in a position to split holy tie. Consequently, in order to get the relief from court, the Hindu wife must prove that ground(s) as provided under the law really exists. Grounds for award of maintenance. Only upon proving that at least one of the following grounds as provided under the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, exists in the favour of the wife, maintenance is granted. These grounds have been provided in section 18 (2) and the same reads as follows: 18. Maintenance of wife. (2) A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance —
(a) if he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without reasonable cause and without her consent or against her wish, or wilfully neglecting her,
(b) if he has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband;
(c) if he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;
(d) if he has any other wife living;
(e) if he keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife is living or habitually resides with a concubine elsewhere;
(f) if he has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion;
(g) if there is any other cause justifying living separately.The conduct of husband in entering into an agreement with the purchasers of the house directing them to get his wife evicted from the house would amount to a cause justifying her living separately and claim maintenance from the husband. (Meera Nireshwalia v. Sukumar Nireshwalia, 1995 (1) HLR 126) Denial of Maintenance - when appropriate. Section 18 (3) also provides a Bar to relief. It reads “ A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.” Therefore even though any one of grounds as mentioned above exists in favour of the wife, she is not be entitled to relief if she has indulged in adulterous relationship or has converted herself into any other religion thereby ceasing to be a Hindu. Earlier in order to be entitled for the relief, the marriage was required to be a valid marriage. In other words, if the marriage was illegal then the matrimonial relationship between the husband and wife was considered to be non-existent and therefore no right of maintenance accrued to wife. However, in a recent case titled as Ramesh Chandra Ram Pratap Daga Vs. Rameshwari Ramesh Chandra Daga a question before the Hon’ble Supreme Court was “Whether the wife is entitled to maintenance, if the marriage is held to be a nullity?” The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that in interpreting the provision of Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act the expression 'at the passing of passing any decree,' as has been used in Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, includes a decree of nullity of marriage and the court is empowered to grant alimony or maintenance at that juncture. Therefore when a court passes a decree of nullity, at that time the court can grant alimony and maintenance to such spouse based on the fact and circumstances of the case. Who else other than the Wife can claim Maintenance? Besides the wife other relations who are economically dependent are also entitled to maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code as well as the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act. Under the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act a widowed daughter-in-law is entitled maintenance from her father-in-law to the extent of the share of her deceased husband had the property. The minor children of a Hindu, whether legitimate or illegitimate, are entitled to claim maintenance from their parents. Similarly, the aged and infirm parents of a Hindu are entitled to claim maintenance from their children. An issueless stepmother is considered to be parent for the purpose of the maintenance. Final Analysis. From the foregoing it is amply clear that the laws discussed above cover almost all family relations wherein or who are economically dependent on someone for their survival and provides a right to seek maintenance to such relations.

Notwithstanding, all that the law provides it is always doubtful whether the claimant would get the relief as the right is subject to many conditions as provided in law.

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Category Family Law, Other Articles by - Shree.