In a landmark judgement [Abhilasha Vs. Parkash, Crl. Appeal No. 615 of 2020], the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that an unmarried daughter who is not suffering from any physical or mental abnormality and has attained majority is not entitled to claim maintenance from her father u/s 125 of Cr.P.C.
The three – judge bench comprising of Hon’ble Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy, M.R. Shah was examining the question “whether a Hindu unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father u/s 125 Cr.P.C only till she attains majority or she can claim maintenance till she remains unmarried?”
It was observed by the Hon’ble court that “The Act, 1956 was enacted to amend and codify the law relating to adoptions and maintenance among Hindus. A bare perusal of Section 125(1) Cr.P.C. as well as Section 20 of Act, 1956 indicates that whereas Section 125 Cr.P.C. limits the claim of maintenance of a child until he or she attains majority. By virtue of Section 125(1)(c), an unmarried daughter even though she has attained majority is entitled for maintenance, where such unmarried daughter is by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury is unable to maintain itself. The Scheme under Section 125(1) Cr.P.C., thus, contemplate that claim of maintenance by a daughter, who has attained majority is admissible only when by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, she is unable to maintain herself.”
It was further observed by the Hon’ble Court that “Section 20 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 cast a statutory obligation on a Hindu to maintain his daughter who is unmarried and unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property. As noted above, Hindu Law prior to enactment of Act, 1956 always obliged a Hindu to maintain unmarried daughter, who is unable to maintain herself. The obligation, which is cast on the father to maintain his unmarried daughter, can be enforced by her against her father, if she is unable to maintain herself by enforcing her right under Section 20.”
It was held by the Hon’ble Court that “The purpose and object of Section 125 Cr.P.C. as noted above is to provide immediate relief to applicant in a summary proceedings, whereas right under Section 20 read with Section 3(b) of Act, 1956 contains larger right, which needs determination by a Civil Court, hence for the larger claims as enshrined under Section 20, the proceedings need to be initiated under Section 20 of the Act and the legislature never contemplated to burden the Magistrate while exercising jurisdiction under Section 125 Cr.P.C. to determine the claims contemplated by Act, 1956.”