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Child unable to maintain herself is entitled to maintenance: Madras High Court

An unmarried daughter unable to maintain herself is entitled to claim maintenance under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. A single judge bench of Justice P Velmurugan, while adjudicating the matter in Navira Krishnan v. SN Venkata Krishnan [Crl.M.P.No.4709 of 2021]; dealt with the issue of providing maintenance to the wife and her child.

The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner is a minor child represented by her mother viz., Mrs. P Jayabharathy. The respondent is the father of the petitioner. The marriage between the petitioner’s mother and the respondent was solemnized on 16.6.2016 and out of their wedlock, the petitioner herein born on 11.07.2017. Subsequently, the parents of the petitioner were living separately and the petitioner is under the care and custody of her mother. The respondent/father is an employee of Southern Railways as Engineer and he is earning more than one lakh per month and the respondent was not taking care of his child. Hence, the mother of the petitioner/minor child filed a petition in M.C.No.453 of 2018 under Section 125 Cr.P.C before the learned VI Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Chennai seeking maintenance of Rs.12,500/- per month. However, the learned Judge, without considering the cost of living prevailing as on date ordered Rs.5,000/- per month as maintenance. Challenging the same, the petitioner filed the present petition seeking enhancement of the award amount.

The learned counsel for the respondent would submit that the mother of the petitioner filed a petition under Domestic Violence Act and also receiving Rs.15,000/- per month as interim maintenance to herself and the minor child. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a maintenance case in M.C.No.453 of 2018 and the leaned Judge, ordered Rs.5,000/- per month as maintenance to the petitioner. He would further submit that the petitioner’s mother has voluntarily left the matrimonial home, the respondent is ready to take care of his child. Hence, he objects to enhancement of the maintenance amount.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that “Admittedly, the paternity of the petitioner/minor child is not in dispute. The ingredients of Section 125 of Cr.P.C clearly shows that the child who is unable to maintain herself is entitled for maintenance. In the present case, the petitioner is under the care and custody of her mother and she does not have any independent income to maintain herself and also her minor child. The respondent/father has not established the fact that the petitioner and her mother are having sufficient income to maintain themselves. The learned Judge failed to consider the cost of living prevailing as on date and ordered only Rs.5,000/- per month as maintenance to the petitioner, which is not sufficient for the child. In the light of the above facts and circumstances, this Court is inclined to modify the order dated 22.12.2020 in M.C.No.453 of 2018 passed by the learned VI Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Chennai, to the effect that the maintenance amount Rs.5,000/- per month ordered by the Court below to the petitioner is enhanced to Rs.20,000/- per month from the date of filing of the above case”

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