The Madras High Court recently directed the father, who was working as a Village Administration Officer, to pay interim maintenance to his 10-year-old daughter and further directed the District Collector to initiate appropriate Disciplinary Proceedings against him, if he failed to pay such interim maintenance.

The Bench of Justice S.M. Subramanian observed that “In the event of any failure on the part of the respondent in paying the Interim Maintenance to the minor girl child, the petitioner is at liberty to submit a complaint to the District Collector concerned under whom the respondent is working as the Village Administrative Officer (VAO). In such circumstances, the District Collector concerned is bound to initiate appropriate Disciplinary Proceedings against the respondent for committing an act of misconduct under the Tamil Nadu Government Servants Conduct Rules.”

In this case, petition was moved to transfer a matrimonial dispute from Pudukottai to Ponneri in Tamil Nadu as the petitioner was unemployed and was not in a position to spend, travel and contest the case filed by the respondent.

Advocate B. Thiyagarajan appeared for the petitioner and submitted that the petitioner was unemployed and was taking care of the 10-year-old girl child alone. It was submitted that the respondent who was working as Village Administrative Officer (VAO) in the Revenue Department, was earning substantial amount but was not paying any interim maintenance even to the minor girl child.

Advocate B. Sundar appeared for the Respondent and contended that unless the petitioner allowed the respondent to visit his daughter, he would not be in a position to pay the interim maintenance.

The Court noted that the father being the natural guardian and an earning member was duty bound to maintain the child and observed that “Parents are duty bound to maintain their minor children. The 10 year old child has to be taken care of by the father, who is the natural guardian and an earning member. The petitioner / wife is unemployed and therefore, the respondent / father has to maintain the child.”

The Court further expressed that the Courts were bound to consider the grant of Interim maintenance in the interest of the minor children and to protect their livelihood, which was the Fundamental Right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and noted that “Remedy of maintenance is the measure of social justice as envisaged under the Constitution to prevent the wife and the children from falling into destitution and vagrancy.”

The Court observed that “In the present case, the transfer of the case is to be considered, since the petitioner is unemployed and taking care of 10 year old girl child and she is residing along with her parents at Chennai. That being the case, the divorce case filed by the respondent is to be transferred to the place, where the petitioner resides.”

Accordingly, the Transfer Petition was allowed.

Cause Title- M. Mahalakshmi v. M. Vijayakumar

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