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Delhi HC says father’s responsibility towards children does not end with their attaining majority

Justice Subramonium Prasad quoted section 125 of CrPC in a matrimonial petition and said: “This court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that at the age of 18 the education of the son is not yet over and the son cannot sustain himself.

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The Delhi High Court has made it clear that a father’s responsibility of providing for his wife and children abides and does not stop with the children attaining majority.

Justice Subramonium Prasad quoted section 125 of CrPC in a matrimonial petition and said: “This court cannot shut its eyes to the fact that at the age of 18 the education of the son is not yet over and the son cannot sustain himself. The son would have barely passed his 12th Standard on completing 18 years of age and therefore the petitioner No.1 has to look after the son and bear his entire expenses.”

The court added: “It cannot be said that the obligation of a father would come to an end when his son reaches 18 years of age and the entire burden of his education and other expenses would fall only on the mother. This Court is therefore inclined to grant a sum of Rs 15,000 per month as interim maintenance to the mother from the date of the son  attaining the age of majority till he completes his graduation or starts earning, whichever is earlier.”

The court also added: “The amount earned by the mother has to be spent on her and on her children without any contribution by the father, because the son has attained majority. The Court cannot shut its eyes to the rising cost of living. It is not reasonable to expect that the mother alone would bear the entire burden for herself and for the son with the small amount of maintenance given by the respondent herein towards the maintenance of his daughter.”

The court noted that the present revision petition is directed against the order passed by the Additional Principal Judge, Family court, declining maintenance to the petitioner mother and granting maintenance only to children. The family court had declined maintenance to the wife and granted maintenance of Rs 7,000 per month to the two children which was later enhanced to Rs 13,000 per month.

Both the parties are government employees. The wife was working as an upper divisional clerk with the Delhi Municipal Corporation and the husband was working as a joint general manager (HR) with the Airports Authority of India. According to the affidavit, the monthly income of the wife is shown as Rs 43,792 per month and she has stated that her monthly expenditure is Rs 75,000. She also stated that her net income is Rs 37,762 per month. On the other hand the husband was earning a gross salary of Rs 96,089 per month.

The wife moved to the family courts for the maintenance, but the family court denied for the maintenance to the wife as she is earning sufficiently. However, the court ordered to grant maintenance to both children in 25% each of the total income of the father.

Praveen Suri, counsel for petitioner, relied on Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai, (2008) 2 SCC 316, and Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, (2015) 6 SCC 353 in which it was held that the purpose of Section 125 CrPC has been laid down by the Supreme Court in several judgments. The object of Section 125 CrPC is to prevent vagrancy and destitution of a deserted wife by providing her for the food, clothing and shelter by a speedy remedy. The object of Section 125 CrPC is to bring down the agony and financial suffering of a women who left her matrimonial home so that some arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself and her child.

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The court opined that since the purpose of granting interim maintenance is to ensure that the wife and the children are not put to starvation, the Courts while fixing interim maintenance are not expected to dwell into minute and excruciating details and facts which have to be proved by the parties.

The court allowed the revision petition by concluding that “The amount earned by the wife will not be sufficient for the family of three, i.e. the mother and two children to sustain themselves. The amount spent on the son will not be available for the mother

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