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In a poignant case where a father wanted his son to repay a loan he had given, the Bombay High Court said parents are obligated to pay for education

Following a complaint by a father in a trial court against his son, the latter filed a case in the Bombay High Court which made it clear that parents are obligated to pay for their children’s education and it was not a loan amount that must be repaid to them.

The petitioner in the High Court was one Nikhil Mohan, who had gone to the US in 2004 for his education. An amount of Rs 29 lakh was borne by Mohan’s father. However, the father had filed a private complaint against his son in a trial court “for the offences of criminal breach of trust and cheating under Sections 406, 417, 418 and 420 of Indian Penal Code on the ground that the petitioner has borrowed time to time money… i.e., total amount of Rs. 29 lakhs from May 2004 till March 2009”.

However, the father had hidden his relationship with the petitioner from the trial court and wanted it to consider the transaction in a very practical way. The father had also submitted a letter along with the complaint to the High Court, stating that the son had acknowledged the amount of Rs 29 lakh and promised to repay it by January 1, 2010 along with 10.5 percent compound interest.

While the High Court agreed that the son has acknowledged the amount of Rs 29 lakh, it said that it cannot be construed as a criminal breach of trust as the money was spent on education and not misused by the son. “The money was spent for the cause for which it was given,” and as such, could not be held as a breach of trust.

The bench of the High Court said the acknowledgement means an expression of gratitude. The Court also expressed its discontent saying that such matters do not need to be dragged to court. It stated: “The Court matters reflect mirror image of the culture, maturity and problem areas of the Society in the country. The present litigation speaks in volume about the deterioration of the social values on which exclusively the legal relationships stand. Filing of such litigations is a root cause of piling of cases in the Courts.”

The son agreed to take responsibility of the father and pay a sum of Rs 15 lakh to him. The High Court said this amount should be paid in three installments in three months. The Court concluded: “To educate a child and spend money on his education as per the capacity is an obligation of the parents and if it is discharged, then the child should be grateful and it is not a legal issue. Such monetary transactions are out of love, affection, care and concern, which should not be transformed into litigations.”

The High Court also absolved the son on the charges of cheating, by saying, “the person should have an intention to cheat right from the beginning. There should be inducement to part money with intention to cheat.”

—By Naved Ahmed

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