The Allahabad High Court while allowing a petition observed that the object of maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy and destitution of a deserted wife, by providing her food, clothing, and shelter by a speedy remedy.
A single-judge bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh passed this order while hearing a criminal revision petition filed by revisionist/wife.
The criminal revision has been preferred against the order dated 02.02.2022, passed by the Additional Principal Judge, Family Court, Fatehpur, whereby the application of revisionist under Section 125 CrPC for maintenance, has been rejected.
Counsel for revisionist submitted that the revisionist is the wife of the opposite party No 2 since marriage in 2013 but after marriage, she was harassed by the opposite party No 2 and his family members and that in the month of November 2014, she was forced to leave her matrimonial home.
Referring to averments and evidence of the parties, it was submitted that there is sufficient evidence to show that the revisionist has sufficient cause and reasons to live separately but her evidence has not been considered by the court below in correct perspective and the case of revisionist was dismissed on the ground that the revisionist is residing separately without any just cause. The alleged decree of restitution of conjugal rights passed in favour of the opposite party No 2 cannot be the basis to reject the claim of maintenance.
It was further submitted that the revisionist has no source of income to maintain herself. The findings rendered by the court below are not based on evidence and thus, impugned order is liable to be set aside. In support of his submissions, counsel for revisionists has placed reliance upon the decision of Smt Kiran Singh vs State of UP and another, decided on 26.04.2022.
Also Read: Kerala High Court directs PWD counsel to get instructions from state govt on Kelithode bridge work
AGA submitted that there is no illegality or perversity in the impugned order.
The Court observed Chapter IX of Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the order for maintenance of wives, children and parents. As per Section 125 of CrPC, if any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, his legitimate or illegitimate minor children, whether married or not, and his father or mother unable to maintain themselves, the Magistrate First Class upon proof of such refusal or neglect direct such person to make monthly allowances and to pay the same to such persons from time to time. It is well established that the object of grant of maintenance is to afford a subsistence allowance to the wife who is not able to maintain herself. It provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.
Maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty. It is awarded to her so that she can survive. The fact that time is spent between the date of the application and a final adjudication and an award in favour of the wife, does not mean that she had enough funds to maintain herself.
Keeping the aforesaid legal position in view, in the case, it may be stated that the Family Court has dismissed the case of revisionist under Section 125 CrPC on the sole ground that she is staying separately from her husband without any just reason. However, the court recorded finding that she is the legally wedded wife of the opposite party No 2 and that she has no source of income to maintain herself and that she has not been provided any maintenance so far.
Also Read: Allahabad High Court allows withdrawal of prosecution against BSP MLA Umashankar Singh
The Court noted in the matter it is not disputed that the revisionist is the legally wedded wife of the opposite party No 2. The revisionist has filed application under Section 125 CrPC seeking maintenance, wherein inter-alia it was alleged that after marriage, she was harassed by the opposite party No 2 and his family members on account of demand of motorcycle, golden chain and rupees one lakh cash and that in the month of November 2014 she was forcibly left near her parental home. She made complaint to the police and thereafter in pressure of police, the opposite party No 2 took her to matrimonial home but again she was harassed on account of dowry and that when she heard that the opposite party No 2 and his family members were planning to kill her, she called her parental family and she came back to her parental home and a complaint was made to police. She has also alleged that she has no source of income to maintain herself, whereas the opposite party No 2 is doing the business of garments and earning Rs 60,000/ pm. The revisionist has supported this version in her statement before the Family Court.
On material particulars her version is supported by Kapoor Singh, who is brother of the revisionist. It appears that Jagnaik was not produced for cross-examination. The opposite party No 2/ husband has denied the revisionist version of the revisionist and stated that he is ready to keep the revisionist with him but she is not ready for the same.
He has also come into the witness box. Beside him, another witness Samender, who is brother of opposite party No2 and Motilal, who is uncle of opposite party No3, have also been examined.
The Family Court disbelieved the evidence of the revisionist on the ground that there are some material contradictions in her statement.
Also Read: Allahabad High Court directs Mathura court to hear protest petition afresh, quashes previous order of civil court
“However, perusal of record shows that on material aspects of the case, there is no material contradiction in her statement. Her statement is supported by Kapoor Singh. Here it may be observed that proceedings under section 125 CrPC are of summary nature and in such matters evidence of claimant/wife seeking maintenance is not to be appreciated in a manner like in criminal trials for offences under Indian Penal Code or other substantial criminal offences. As stated above, the provision of section 125 CrPC is measure of social justice and while adjudicating a matter pertaining to this provision, it must be borne in mind that the dominant object of Section 125 is to prevent destitution and vagrancy and that it being a measure of social legislation, it is to be construed liberally for the welfare and benefit of the wife and children.
In the case, it appears that the Family Court had conducted the proceedings without being alive to the objects and reasons and the spirit of the provisions under Section 125 of CrPC and disregarded the basic canon of law that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife, who is unable to maintain herself. The object of maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy and destitution of a deserted wife, by providing her food, clothing, and shelter by a speedy remedy.
As settled by the Apex Court, Section 125 CrPC is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children.
In the case, the Family Court committed error by disbelieving the evidence of the revisionist to the effect that she was harassed by the opposite party No 2 on account of dowry and that due to ill treatment meted out to her, she was compelled to reside at her parental home. So far this question is concerned that a decree of restitution of conjugal rights has been passed in favour of the opposite party, it may be mentioned that recently in case of Smt Kiran Singh vs State Of U.P And Anr (Criminal Revision No.896 of 2019), decided on 26.04.2022, it has been held by the coordinate Bench of this court that there is no bar under Section 125 CrPC to grant maintenance to wife, even against whom, a decree for restitution of conjugal rights has been passed. It was further held that it would be very harsh to refuse maintenance on the grounds of a decree of restitution of conjugal rights passed in favour of the husband.
Considering the facts and evidence of the parties, vis-a-vis, the aforesaid legal position, it is apparent that the Family Court committed error by rejecting the application of the revisionist on the ground that she is staying away from her husband without any sufficient reason,” the Court further observed while allowing the revision petition.
“Thus, the impugned judgment and order is set aside and the matter is remanded back to the Family Court concerned to consider the matter and pass an order afresh in accordance with law,” the Court ordered.