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Right To Maintenance


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Many women fear to walk out of abusive marriages due to an inability to support themselves. Where will I go if I walk outNULL How will I surviveNULL How will I make ends meetNULL These are the questions foremost in a womanâNULLTs mind. A knowledge of your legal rights would be of tremendous help if you or if someone you know were ever in a situation like this.

Chapter IX of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with the subject of maintenance. Every man has a legal and moral duty to maintain not only his wife, but also his children and parents, if they are unable to provide for themselves. In fact, the term âNULL~childrenâNULLT deals not only with legitimate children, but also with illegitimate children. Once paternity has been proved, it is the legal duty of the father to provide his legitimate and illegitimate children with a monthly allowance until they attain majority. In addition, if the child in question is unable to maintain himself even after he is an adult, due to some form of mental or physical illness or injury, the father must continue to provide for him.

Similarly, the husband must provide for a wife until she remarries, or finds a living which enables her to make enough money to support herself. Even if a man makes a very minimal living, in fact, even if he is a beggar, he is bound to provide for his wife and his children.

Another point that should be noted is that this section confers what is known as a âNULL~statutory rightâNULLT. Thus, even a Muslim wife would be entitled to claim maintenance under this Act, even if she is not entitled to maintenance under Mohammedan Law.

In Bai TahiraâNULLTs case, the husband had given his wife Rs. 5000 as âNULL~meharâNULLT and Rs 180 as iddat. After receiving this money on divorce, the wife made a declaration that she had no further claims on her ex-husbandâNULLTs money or property. However, when she found herself in financial difficulty, she moved the court and the matter went into appeal right up to the Supreme Court! It was ultimately held that she was entitled to maintenance. The judgment stated that the personal law would be valid only if the amount received would be enough for continuous maintenance. Rs. 5000 was of course not adequate for this purpose. Justice Krishna Iyer, who tried this case in the Supreme Court, remarked âNULLoThe interest on Rs. 5000 would not be enough to keep the womanâNULLTs body and soul together even for a day, unless she was ready to sell her body and give up her soul!âNULL

The biggest drawback of this law is that the amount of maintenance that can be granted under this particular section cannot exceed Rs. 500 per person. Thus if a man deserts his wife and two children, the wife can claim a maximum maintenance of Rs. 1,500 under this law. (Other laws would entitle her to different amounts, depending on which laws are applicable to the particular situation.)

It is widely felt that the amount of Rs. 500 a month is totally inadequate in this day and age. Although a bill was introduced in parliament to remove this monetary limit and to give liberty to the court to sanction any amount of maintenance it deemed fit, depending on the monetary situation of the husband, this bill was surprisingly not passed by the Parliament.

Thus an Indian divorcee, irrespective of her religion, is entitled to maintenance allowance. (This of course is subject to certain conditions, depending on the circumstances of divorce.) The wife is entitled to walk out of a marriage and receive maintenance if the husband verbally or physically abuses or ill-treats her, lives with a mistress or is suffering from a venereal disease, but if the wife is living in adultery (and there is clear proof, not just suspicion of adultery) or if they are separated with mutual consent or does not give any sufficient reason for walking out of the marriage, she may not be entitled to maintenance.

 



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