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Trending: Call for Papers Volume 3 | Issue 2: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Maintenance in Matrimonial Disputes

Introduction

Under Indian Legal System there are three provision regarding the granting of Maintenance to one spouse of marriage from the another. First, is section 24 and section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Second is, section 18 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Third is, section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
This Blog will discuss only two provisions i.e., Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Further its requirements and in last some difference between both of the provisions. 

What is Maintenance ? 

‘Maintenance’ has been defined under section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 to include : 

i. In all cases, provision for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment; and 
ii. In the case of an unmarried daughter also the reasonable expenses of, and incidental to her marriage.[1]  Maintenance is the financial sum or economic support granted by the court from one spouse to another spouse. This is granted by the court only when one spouse is unable to maintain financially himself or herself both during the ongoing proceeding of divorce or post – divorce.
The allowance can be periodical or be lump sum i.e., monthly, yearly or a hefty amount at once. These allowances are given, so that the person can live his or her life with dignity and to fulfill his or her basic needs like food, clothes, house , etc.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) : 

Under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 there are two section regarding the maintenance granting in the matrimonial disputes.

First is, section 24 – this section grants a temporary maintenance to the party (husband or wife) who is unable to pay for the expenses of the court proceedings and unable to maintain himself or herself during the ongoing proceedings. This temporary maintenance is termed as “ pendente lite ” which means interim or temporary. The party who is claiming interim maintenance under section 24 has to establish that he or she has no independent income and that’s why unable to pay for the court proceedings.

In Rita Mago vs V. P. Mago[2], the court held that an order for interim maintenance and for the expenses of the proceedings under section 24 can be passed during the pendency of the proceedings only. Such an order cannot be passed after the conclusion of trial and passing of the decree.

Second is, section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 this section grants permanent maintenance i.e., alimony to that party who is unable to sustain his/her life or not able to fulfill basic needs for living. This type of permanent maintenance can be granted in two forms either periodically or in lump sum amount. Any order of maintenance regarding section 25 if periodical will last only the life of the applicant and not any time exceeding his or her lifetime.

In Jagdish v Manjula,[3] the court held that the wife cannot be denied maintenance on the ground that the decree was passed against her on account of her cruelty. May be, a woman has committed adultery once, this does not in any way means that all her life she should be condemned to live in adultery. If the wife has ceased to live in unchastity she is entitled to maintenance. If this will not be done, it would, in most likelihood, condemn her to live in immorality, especially in a society like ours, where most women are still dependent on husband, parents, etc. 

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA) : 

This act provides maintenance to all the dependents of any individual not just only the wife. Its various sections promises many dependents like wife, widowed daughter in law, children, aged parents and all other dependents. Section 18 of this act specifically deals with the right of maintenance given to the wife.

Under section 18 any Hindu wife is allowed to claim maintenance from her husband for her lifetime and it is immaterial whether their marriage was solemnized before or after the commencement of this act. A wife who has ceased to be a Hindu cannot claim maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.

In Krishna v sakharabai,[4] the court held that the Hindu wife contemplated in section 18 does not include the wife of a void marriage. Section 18 of HAMA strictly contemplates a proceeding by a wife during the subsistence of her status as wife. In other words, only a wife who continues to have that legal status has the right to claim and receive maintenance. Section 18 does not permit a divorced wife or a wife whose marriage has been declared void by a decree of nullity to claim and receive maintenance.

Difference Between the Provisions of HMA, 1955 and HAMA 1956 : 

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, either of the spouse (husband or wife) can claim maintenance, while under HAMA, only wife can claim. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, maintenance can be claimed only on a condition that first a decree of nullity, Restitution, judicial separation or divorce should be passed but under HAMA, a wife can claim maintenance from her husband while her marriage subsists and can live separately. Hindu wife contemplated under HAMA includes only the wife of a valid marriage, while under Hindu Marriage Act even a wife of void marriage can also claim maintenance.

[1] Section 3(b), Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.
[2] Rita Mago vs V. P. Mago, AIR 1977 Del 176.
[3] Jagdish v Manjula , AIR 1975 Cal 64.

[4] Krishna v Sakharabai, 1 (1988), DMC 60 (Kan). 
This blog is authored by-Bhanu Pratap Singh Rathore

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