Husband Required To Earn Money Even By Physical Labour, Cannot Avoid Obligation To Maintain Wife And Children- SC
The Supreme Court has observed that the husband is required to earn money even by physical labour, if he is able-bodied, and could not avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds mentioned in the statute.
The Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Bela M. Trivedi observed –
"The Family Court had disregarded the basic canon of law that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife and to the minor children. The husband is required to earn money even by physical labour, if he is an able-bodied, and could not avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds mentioned in the statute."
The Court also held that Section 125 CrPC s a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children. It falls within the Constitutional sweep of Article 15(3), reinforced by Article 39 of the Constitution.
In this case, Appellant No. 1 and Respondent were married and out of the said wedlock, two children were born. The Appellants had filed a maintenance petition under Section 125 CrPC seeking maintenance from the respondent alleging inter-alia that the respondent was subjecting the appellant-wife to utmost cruelty and physical and mental torture. As a result of thereof, she had to leave her matrimonial home along with her children time and again.
It was alleged that the Respondent demanded Rs. 1 Crore dowry from the father of Appellant No. 1. The Appellant had also submitted that time and again her father had given money to Respondent No. 1 to revive his business and pay off the loans, but he continued to harass her. Thereafter, the Appellant along with her children left her matrimonial home and started living on rental premises.
According to the Appellants, the Respondent had failed and neglected to maintain them, and they being unable to maintain themselves, the Maintenance Petition under section 125 of Cr.P.C. was filed.
The said Petition was contested by the Respondent by filing a reply. The Respondent did not deny his marriage with the Appellant however, denied the allegations with regard to the demand of dowry and harassment. He also denied that he had failed and neglected to maintain the appellants.
According to him, the Appellant had left her matrimonial home along with the children without any reason. The Respondent while admitting that the daughter was born out of his wedlock with the Appellant, had alleged that Appellant no. 2 was not his biological son.
The Family Court granted an interim maintenance allowance of Rs. 40,000 per month in favor of the Appellants, however, the daughter having attained the age of majority, no interim maintenance was granted to her.
Despite the issuance of conditional warrants of arrest against the Respondent by the Family Court, he had failed to appear in the Court and to make payment of interim maintenance. Therefore his defence was also struck off.
The Respondent then challenged all the orders of the Family Court by filing Revision Applications before the High Court, however, in none of the said proceedings, the High Court had granted any stay of the proceedings of the Family Court.
The Appellant-wife, therefore, in support of her petition examined herself along with other 04 witnesses and adduced documentary evidence, The Family Court after appreciating the said evidence passed the order rejecting the application of Appellant no.1 and her daughter, and granting maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/- per month to the appellant no.2 – son.
Aggrieved, the Appellants preferred the revision application before the High Court, which was dismissed.
Counsel Sandeep Jindal appeared for the Appellants while Counsel Dushyant Parashar appeared for the Respondent before the Court.
The Apex Court noted, "At the outset, it may be noted that Section 125 of Cr.P.C. was conceived to ameliorate the agony, anguish and financial suffering of a woman who is required to leave the matrimonial home, so that some suitable arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself and the children, as observed by this Court in Bhuwan Mohan Singh vs. Meena & Ors."
The Court also held that the Family Court had not only overlooked and disregarded the aforesaid settled legal position but had proceeded with the proceedings in an absolute pervert manner.
In this context, the Bench observed –
"The very fact that the right of the respondent to cross-examine the witnesses of the appellant-original applicant was closed, as he had failed to appear before the Family Court despite the issuance of warrants, clearly established that he had no regards for his own family nor had any regards for the Court or for the law."
Thus, the Court held –
"Such an erroneous and perverse order of Family Court was unfortunately confirmed by the High Court by passing a very perfunctory impugned order. The High Court, without assigning any reasons, passed the impugned order in a very casual manner."
The Court held that though the Respondent had a sufficient source of income and was able-bodied, had failed and neglected to maintain the appellants.
Accordingly, the Court granted a maintenance allowance of Rs.10,000/- per month to the Appellant-wife, over and above the maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/- awarded by the Family Court to Appellant no. 2-son, and allowed the appeal.
Cause Title – Anju Garg & Anr. v. Deepak Kumar Garg