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maintenance

A Major Unmarried Daughter is not entitled to claim Maintenance from Father u/s 125 of Crpc: Supreme Court of India

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 Crpc held by a three-judge bench comprising of Hon’ble Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy, and M.R. Shah in a landmark judgement Abhilasha vs. Prakash [Crl. Appeal No. 615 of 2020].

Facts related to this case is: The respondent No.2, mother of the appellant, on her behalf, as well as on behalf of her two sons and the appellant daughter, filed an application under Section 125 Crpc. against her husband, respondent No.1, Prakash, claiming maintenance for herself and her three children.

The question raised from this case is whether a Hindu unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance from her father u/s 125 Crpc 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) Crpc. as well as Section 20 of Act, 1956 indicates that whereas Section 125 Crpc. 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) Crpc. 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 the enactment of Act, 1956 always obliged a Hindu to maintain an 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 Crpc. as noted above is to provide immediate relief to an applicant in a summary proceeding, 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 Crpc. to determine the claims contemplated by Act, 1956.”

Finally, the appeal has been dismissed by giving liberty to the appellant to take recourse to section 20(3) of the act, 1956.

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Judgement reviewed by-Sarita Kumari

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