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Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Matharoo Vs. Harneet Kaur and Ors. - (High Court of Bombay) (07 Sep 2020)

Party can claim maintenance from the estate of husband under Section 19 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 only after demonstrating that she is unable to maintain herself



The Petitioner was blessed with two sons. Late Bhupinder was married to Respondent no. 1 on 12th December, 2004 and died on 21st May, 2015. Respondent no. 2, son was born out of the above marriage. The mother of Respondent no. 1 died in the year 2016, whereas her father died in February, 2017. It is her case that, she has no independent source of earning and she and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the Petitioner. It is, in this background, Respondent no. 1 preferred the proceedings under Sections 19 and 22 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 with a prayer for grant of maintenance of Rs. 1,50,000 per month to petitioner no. 1 and Rs. 50,000 to Petitioner no. 2 to the petition before the Family Court.

The claim was resisted by the present Petitioner-original Respondent thereby alleging that, apart from the fact that the present Petitioner is paying maintenance to the Respondents and has provided accommodation, an expenses of Rs. 90,000 are incurred by the Petitioner so as to meet day-to-day requirement, educational expenses etc. The break-up to that effect has been given in the reply filed to the main petition before the Family Court. Since the Respondent no. 1 claimed to have neglected to maintain by the Petitioner, the application seeking interim maintenance under Section 19 of the Act came to be moved claiming Rs. 1,00,000 per month for Respondent no. 1 and Rs. 50,000 per month to Respondent no. 2, son.

Vide impugned order, the Family Court has allowed the prayer partly and granted maintenance of Rs. 40,000 per month to respondent no. 1, whereas Rs. 30,000 per month to respondent no. 2. Learned counsel for the Petitioner-original respondent would invite attention of this Court to the provisions of Section 19, Proviso to Sub-Section (2) of the Act so as to claim that, the maintenance ought to have been claimed by the Respondent no. 1 only after demonstrating that she was unable to maintain herself from her own earnings or from the estate of her parents.

The plain reading of Section 19 of the Act contemplates that, the Respondents have every right to claim the maintenance after the death of husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law i.e. the present Petitioner. That proviso to Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 contemplates that, the Respondent has to demonstrate that she is unable to maintain herself. It is in this eventuality, she can claim maintenance from the estate of her husband, still fact remains that the said burden can be discharged by Respondent no. 1 at an appropriate stage. The object with which the provision is made in the statute book for grant of interim maintenance cannot be ignored.

At this stage, what was required to be appreciated by the Court below and rightly so appreciated by the Family Court in the impugned order is whether there was neglect to maintain and whether the Respondents are entitled for maintenance from the Petitioner in view of Section 19 of the Act. The Family Court has relied on the statement made in the written statement by the present Petitioner that the income per month of the petitioner from the HUF property is Rs. 1,28,000. The income of the Petitioner for the assessment year 2018-2019 as was reflected in the income-tax return was Rs. 74,87,007.

It cannot be at this stage presumed that, the maintenance is disproportionate to the legal source of income of the Petitioner. Rather the maintenance awarded to the Respondent no. 1 to the tune of Rs. 40,000 and to respondent no. 2, grandson of Rs. 30,000 appears to be justified, considering the income drawn by the Petitioner. Present Court cannot see any material illegalities so as to infer that the order impugned runs contrary to the scheme of Section 19 of the Act. No case for interference is made out. Petition dismissed.


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