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Wife has the Right to Claim Maintenance from the Estate Inherited by the Father – In – Law

The Hon’ble High Court of Bombay in Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Matharoo V. Harneet Kaur [Writ Petition (S.T.) No. 4054 of 2020] held that a widow has every right to claim maintenance from the estate inherited by her father-in-law. The bench of Hon’ble Justice Nitin W Sambre observed that u/s 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, the widow has every right to claim maintenance from the estate inherited by the father-in-law.

Background –

The respondent  was married to the late son of the petitioner and had a son. Both of the respondent widows parents passed away and she had no independent source of earning and the widow and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the petitioner father-in-law. She subsequently filed proceedings under Section 19 and 22 of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 seeking grant of maintenance of Rs. 1.5 lakh per month for herself and Rs. 50,000 for son, before the family court, the court awarded a maintenance of Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 30,000 per month, which was challenged by the petitioner.

Held

It was observed that “At the outset, it is required to be submitted that 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 on her 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.”

It was further observed by the Hon’ble Court that “That being so, 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 as reflected in the hereinabove.”

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