MAINTENANCE FOR WIFE
Whether Hindu wife is entitled to get maintenance from her husband and if yes, then discuss the provisions under which she can claim maintenance from her husband with relevant case laws.
The Preamble which is attached with the Indian Constitution contains five golden words that are Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic. According to this, India is a socialist country and one the main aim of our government is to provide social justice and the provisions regarding maintenance are based upon these provisions. The main objective of these provisions is to provide social security to women and to protect them from destitution and vagrancy.
In Hindu religion, marriage is always considered as a sacrament and a permanent union and according to this religion, it is duty of husband to support his wife physically, emotionally and financially. Moreover, a girl always gives her consent for the marriage only on the belief that her husband will protect her from all the difficult situations and support her financially.
But the question arises here is, “if the husband denies to give financial support to his wife, then whether she has right to claim the maintenance from her husband and whether her husband is bound to provide maintenance to his wife.”
Our society is a patriarchal in nature and because of this the burden always remains upon a husband to provide financial support to his wife if she is unable to maintain herself and if he denies to give financial aid to his wife then she has right to compel her husband and many provisions have been given in various statutes like:-
• Section- 24 and 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
• Section- 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
• Section- 125 of Code of Criminal procedure, 1973.
Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with the provisions regarding interim maintenance whereas as section- 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with the provisions regarding permanent maintenance. The main thing of these sections is that they both are gender neutral. According to these sections both husband and wife are entitled to claim maintenance from another spouse.
According to section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, if a petitioner (whether husband or wife) files any petition under this act i.e. whether for restitution of conjugal rights, judicial separation, divorce, nullity of marriage, then husband or wife has right to file an application before the court for granting the interim maintenance. The court will grant interim maintenance only if he/she proves that he/she does not have sufficient means to maintain himself/herself and not have sufficient income for the necessary expenses of proceedings.
If the applicant proves the insufficiency of funds then court after analyzing the income of applicant and the income of respondent grants the application and passes the order for paying money to the applicant for necessary expenses of proceedings and for maintenance of the applicant.
The orders which are passed under this section are interlocutory orders and appeal cannot file against these orders. Moreover, the court can pass orders under this section only during the pendency of proceedings.
Whereas, under section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the court grants the application for maintenance at the time of passing the decree. When the court allows the petition and passes the decree, at that time court after analyzing the income of respondent orders the respondent to pay a gross sum or monthly or periodically sum to the applicant for a term not exceeding the life of the applicant. The court after granting maintenance to applicant, at any time if the conditions of both the parties changes, can modify or rescind any such order as the court deems just and reasonable.
According to section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, only wife has right to claim maintenance from her husband. She can claim maintenance from her husband even if she resides apart from her husband. But if she resides apart from her husband, she has to prove reasonable ground to get the maintenance like:-
• Her husband has deserted her without any reasonable cause
• Her husband treats her with cruelty
• He keeps concubine in same house in which she is living
If she proves any reasonable ground, then only she can claim maintenance from her husband but she will not get separate residence and maintenance if she is unchaste or ceases to be Hindu by converting into another religion.
Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 also deals with the provisions regarding maintenance. According to this section, if a husband has sufficient means but he is neglecting or refusing to maintain his wife, then his wife has right to claim maintenance from her husband. Under this section only wife and not husband is entitled to claim maintenance and this sections includes a wife who has been divorced by her husband or who has obtained a divorce from her husband.
According to this section, a applicant can claim the interim maintenance and if applicant proves that she has not sufficient means for the necessary expenses of the proceedings then the court can grant the interim maintenance and such the application for interim maintenance shall be disposed off within sixty days from the date of service of notice of that application.
According to this section, if wife lives in adultery or if she without any reasonable excuse refuses to live with her husband or if with the mutual consent she and her husband lives apart from each other, in such situations she is not entitled to claim maintenance from her husband. Moreover, if after granting the maintenance court finds such things then the court has power to revoke the abovesaid order.
This section only includes legally wedded wife. It means a wife of a void marriage cannot claim maintenance from her husband under this section.
In the leading case of Yamunabai vs Anantrao[(1988) 1 SCC 530], The Supreme Court held that, “wife means only a legitimate/legally wedded wife and therefore a marriage proved void cannot give a wife any right to get maintenance”
But in the leading case of Badshah vs. Urmila Badshah Godse and Anr.[(2014) 1 SCC 188], The Supreme Court held that, “if the second wife knows about the first marriage of her husband then in such a the second wife cannot claim maintenance from her husband but if the husband conceals the fact about his first marriage from his second wife, in such a case to provide social justice to the woman, the court will grant the maintenance even if she is a wife of void marriage.”
Hence, it can be concluded that Hindu wife can claim maintenance from her husband under section 24 and 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 and section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Moreover, these all sections are independent and if a party files an application under one section, it does not mean that the party cannot file an application under another section. But the court while granting maintenance will consider the amount granted under another section.