Hindu Marriage Act, 1955- Case law- Section 26 - Padmja Sharma vs. Ratan Lal Sharma
Bench: Justice D.P. Wadhwa and Justice M.B. Shah
Whether it is the sole duty of the father to maintain a minor child irrespective of the financial condition of the mother?
The Family Court by its order,granted a decree of divorce and custody of the minor children in favour of the Appellant along with a decree of Rs. 1,00,000/- towards 'streedhan', against claim of Rs. 1,80,000/- provided the Respondent does not return the articles mentioned by the Appellant in the Petition. Rs. 500/- per month from the date of order was awarded for the maintenance of the children anda sum of Rs. 1,000/- was paid to the Appellant as litigation expenses.
The High Court considered the appeal filed by the Appellant, seeking decree of full claim of ‘streedhan’ and enhanced maintenance for the children and granted Rs. 1,000/- per monthas maintenance to the minor children, effective from the date of the order of the Family Court. However, the Court rejected the prayer for enhancement of ‘streedhan’ amount from Rs. 1,00,000/-.
Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court, while pronounced its judgment below.
The Court, while partly allowing the appeal of the Appellant, observed that according to theSection 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956 read in conjunction with Hindu Laws relating to family, the mother has as much obligation to maintain a minor child as that of a father. Where both parents of a minor child are employed, they are obliged to pay maintenance in proportion of their salaries. The law does not state that even if the mother is affluent enough to maintain the minor child, the father has to bear the entire burden of maintenance.
In case of the present appeal, the Court held that the Appellant is liable to contribute towards the maintenance of the children in the proportion of 2:1, taking the approximate salary of the Respondent to be double to that of the Appellant. Asum of Rs. 3,000/- per month for each of the child was considered sufficient for maintenance of the children, apart from the amount of Rs. 250/- per month which the Respondent has already been paying to them, under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code.