It is the duty of every person to maintain his wife, children, and aged
parents, who are not able to live on their own. Section 125 of Criminal
Procedure deals with the order of maintenance of wives, children, and parents.
In the case of Rohtash Singh v. Ramendri
, 2000 (3) SCC 180, the Supreme
Court dealt with the question of whether a wife who has deserted her husband is
entitled to maintenance under section 125 of Criminal Procedure?
The Supreme Court observed that though the marital relations came to an end by
the divorce granted by the Family Court under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage
Act, the respondent continues to be "wife" within the meaning of Section 125
Criminal Procedure. On account of Explanation (b) to Sub-section (1) which
provides as under:
Under this provision, "wife" also includes a woman who has been divorced by/from
husband and has not remarried."
The Court held that this plea, as we have already indicated above, cannot be
accepted as a woman has two distinct rights for maintenance.
- As a wife, she is entitled to maintenance unless she suffers from any of
the disabilities indicated in Section 125(4).
- As a divorced woman, she is again entitled to claim maintenance from the
person of whom she was once the wife.
A woman after divorce becomes destitute. If she cannot maintain herself or
remains unmarried, the man who was, once, her husband continues to be under a
statutory duty and obligation to provide maintenance to her.
However, it was held that the wife would be entitled to maintenance only from
the date of the divorce decree, and not from the date of filing of an
application under Section 125 as held by the Additional Sessions Judge.