Section 125 to 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code make provisions for the maintenance of wife, children, and parents. It is a natural and fundamental duty of every person to maintain his parents, wife, and children so long as they are not able to maintain themselves.
Law for Maintenance of Parents, Wife, and Children
According to section 125 of CrPC, a person having sufficient means is bound to maintain:-
1. His Wife (unable to maintain herself).
2. His legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not (unable to maintain himself/herself).
3. His legitimate or illegitimate child (not a married daughter) who has attained majority, if the child is physically or mentally abnormal or having any injury by which he/she is unable to maintain himself/herself.
4. His father or mother (unable to maintain himself/herself)
The Muta Wife is also entitled for maintenance.
Minor includes below 18 years of age.
Wife includes a divorced wife. (see last case)
Order of Maintenance
The magistrate of 1st class is empowered to make any order of maintenance for those persons who are mentioned above.
According to clause 2 of section 125 of CrPC, the maintenance or interim maintenance shall be payable from the date of the order or if it is mentioned from the date of application.
According to clause 3 of section 125 of CrPC, if any person who is ordered to maintain fails without sufficient reason, the magistrate may issue a warrant for levying the amount due. If the amount is unpaid after the execution of the warrant, there is a provision of imprisonment for a term extending to 1 month or until payment, if sooner made.
When Wife is Not Entitled for Maintenance
Clause 4 of section 125 of CrPC provides that the wife is not entitled for the maintenance or interim maintenance if:-
1. She is living in adultery.
2. Without sufficient reason, she refuses to live with her husband.
3. Husband and wife are living separately by mutual consent.
Under this section, the claimant person is entitled for interim maintenance and expenses of proceedings.
Important Cases Related to Maintenance of Parents, Wife, and Children
In the cases below, the courts provided some revolutionary judgments related to maintenance and support for parents, wife, and children.
Nanak Chand vs. Chandra Kishore, 1970
In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that provisions of this chapter apply whatever may be the personal law by which the parties are governed.
Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum, 1985
In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that section 125 of CrPC is secular in nature, which means it applies to all irrespective of their religion.
After this revolutionary judgement of the Supreme Court, which was truly intended to protect the interest of Muslim women; the Muslim community opposed this judgement.
Therefore the Parliament passed the Muslim Women’s (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. It provided remedies to Muslim women. This new Act allows a Muslim woman to avail the remedy available under section 125 of CrPC only if the husband consents to it. (more about it in simpler words in Section 5 of the above act.)
Daniel Latifi vs. Union of India, 2001
In this case, the court held that the wife can claim maintenance under section 125 of CrPC even without the consent of the husband.
Kongine Bala vs. Vishalashy Sadasivan, 1986
In this case, Kerala HC also cleared that divorced wife includes divorced by mutual consent, which means a wife who is divorced by mutual consent is entitled to get maintenance under section 125 of CrPC.