Maintenance laws for the women of this nation are divided into two
classifications where one of it focuses on the maintenance due to a divorce or
some other matrimonial remedies and the second one discusses maintenance while
the period of subsistence of marriage. The main object of this Article is to
enlighten the purpose of maintenance which is to prevent immorality and maintain
the dignity of women and children. This Article talks about the necessity of
alimony, and maintenance of wife, widow and dependent under Hindu Adoption and
Maintenance, Act 1956.
Undivided family gave rise to the origin of the right of maintenance. The person
who is called as the head in such family is mandatorily bound to maintain the
members of the said family. Under The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956,
Section 3(b) defines maintenance which is as follows:
- In all cases, provision for food, clothing, residence, education and
medical attendance and treatment,
- In the case of an unmarried daughter, also the reasonable expenses of an
incident to her marriage,
” means a person who has not completed his or her age of eighteen
Section 25 of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 provides for the maintenance after a
divorce or nullity of marriage and Section 125 of CrPC and Hindu Adoption &
Maintenance Act, 1965 provides maintenance for wife, parent and children.
What Is The Right Of Maintenance Under The Hindu Adoption And Maintenance Act, 1956?
According to the Apex Court it was held that it is a liability created by Hindu
Law and it arises out of jural relation of the parties.
Maintenance Of The Wife: Maintenance and separate residence of wife is dealt by Section 18 of the
- A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of the
said Act, shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her life
- A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband
without forfeiting her claim to maintenance and the requisite conditions are
stated from clauses (a) to (g).
- A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance
from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to
- Maintenance Provided Interimly:
According to the Supreme Court under section 18 of the Act interim maintenance
can be claimed and thus is a substantive right. The obligation of the
maintenance of the wife remains on the husband even though the wife might choose
to live separately. Both section 18 and 21 of the said Act do not provide for
any charges for maintenance on separate property of husband.
- Residence separate from the residence of husband:
A judgment passed by the Madras High Court Stated that the wife was indeed
entitled to a separate residence along with maintenance. The said wife in this
case was living alone. She was living with her children. She was solely
responsible for raising her kids as the wife, husband and the kids face the case
of desertion. Even though the wife fails to prove the requisite grounds, she
cannot be denied justice and cannot be denied relief. Maintenance claim by the
wife can be covered under clause (g) of section 18(2).
Widowed Daughter-In-Laws Hold The Right To Maintenance:It is the rightful duty of the father-in-law to provide and maintain the
daughter-in-law in case of the demise of his son who was lawfully married to the
daughter-in law. She is entitled to maintenance to the point where she is unable
to take proper care of herself out her own earnings or any other
property. This thereby, has been explained under the Section 19 of The Hindu
Adoption and Maintenance Act./
Parents And Children Too Can Claim For Maintenance:Not only are the fathers obligated to but so are the mothers obligated to
maintain their Sons or illegitimate sons, daughters or illegitimate
daughters, Aged and infirm parents. This has thereby been elaborated in the
case of Phikururavegv v. P Chinnah.
Dependants Too Shall Be Entitled To Maintenance:
- Maintenance of dependents:
Dependants are those who fail to have the capacity to maintain themselves. If
there are any dependants of a deceased they must be maintained and this clearly
is stated in the Section 22 of The Hindu Maintenance and Adoption Act.
Section 21 of the said Act states all those who fall into the definition of a
dependant are rightfully so eligible for maintenance. Having a thorough
knowledge of Section 22 of the said Act will give a better insight as to how
important it is to fulfill the obligation towards the maintenance of the
dependants according to section 21.
- Amount of Maintenance:
It is thus in the hands of the Court to decide and determine the amount of
maintenance. There is no as such fixed amount for maintenance that shall be
paid. Section 23 of the said Act explains the amount of maintenance a person is
eligible for. Although, once the amount has been set by a decree passed by the
court it cannot be changed. In order to alter the set amount there has to be a
clear justification. The main purpose of maintenance is to provide proper
care and aid in order to fulfill the basic needs when a person does not have
requisite sources to provide for themselves.
However, if there are any debts of
the deceased, it is the duty of the dependants to first pay off the said debts
before using the money for maintaining themselves. As we go forth in the above
mentioned topic we must keep in mind if any party claiming for the maintenance
is not a Hindu, they will not be eligible for the same as The Hindu Adoption and
Maintenance Act, 1956 belongs only to the people of Hindu religion.
The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 stands as one of the very essential
Acts in order to protect the rights of women, children, old and infirm. This Act
thereby, makes sure that they have requisite resources to live and sustain
themselves by saving them from spending their lives on the street without food
or shelter. This Act makes sure that there is no miscarriage of justice and that
it strengthens the sections laid down when and if necessary in order to make the
established rights more louder and clearer.
- State of Haryana v. Smt Santra AIR 2000 SC 1888
- Sub-section 2, section 18 of The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956
- Purusottam Mahakund v. Smt. Annapurna Mahakund AIR 1997 Ori 73
- Nelam Malhotra V. Rajinder Malhotra, AIR 1994 Del 234
- Sadhu Singh v. Gurudwara Sahib Narike, AIR 2006 SC 3282
- Meera Nireshwalia v. Sukumar Nireshwalia, AIR 1994 Mad 168
- Raj Kishore Mishra v. Meena Mishra AIR 1995 Allahabadd 70
- Krishna Prasad Rao v Jayashri & Ors, AIR 1986 AP, 17
- Balwant Kaur v. Chanan Singh AIR 2000 SC
- AIR 1970 AP 190
- Gangubai Bhagwan Kolhe v. Bhagwan Bandu Kolhe
- Vasantha v. Chandren AIR 2002 Mad 214, Section 22 of the Act