Friday, July 18, 2014

Husband's sacrosanct duty to finance support wife, if required earn money by physical labour !! Hon Supreme court!! July 15 2014


".....This   delay   in adjudication by the Family Court is not only against human rights  but  also against the basic embodiment of dignity of an individual...."
She is entitled in law to lead  a life in the similar manner as she would have  lived  in  the  house  of  her husband.  That is where the status and strata come into play,  and  that  is where the obligations of the husband, in case of a wife, become a  prominent one.  ...."
"...In fact, it is the sacrosanct duty to render the financial support even if  the husband is required to earn money  with  physical  labour,  if  he  is  able bodied. 
There is no escape route unless there is an order  from  the  Court that the wife is not entitled to get maintenance from  the  husband  on  any legally permissible grounds....."

This judgment and other similar judgments posted on this blog was / were collected from Judis nic in website and / or other websites of Govt. of India or other internet web sites like worldlii or indiankanoon. Some notes are made by Vinayak. This is a free service provided by Vinayak (pen name). Vinayak is a member of SIF - Save Indian Family movement. SIF as a concept is committed to fighting FALSE dowry cases and elder abuse. SIF supports gender equality and a fair treatment of law abiding Indian men. Should you find the dictum in this judgment or the judgment itself repealed or amended or would like to make improvements or comments, please post a comment on the comment section of the blog or write to e _ vinayak @ yahoo . com (please remove spaces). Vinayak is NOT a lawyer and nothing in this blog and/or site and/or file should be considered as legal advise.

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1331 OF 2014
             (Arising out of S.L.P. (Criminal) No. 1565 of 2013)

Bhuwan Mohan Singh                      … Appellant


Meena & Ors.                                   …Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

Dipak Misra, J.

      Leave granted.

The two issues  that  pronouncedly emanate in this appeal by  special  leave are whether the Family Court while deciding an application under Section   7 of the Family Court Act, 1984   (for  brevity,  "the  Act")  which  includes determination of grant of maintenance  to  the  persons  as  entitled  under that provision,  should allow adjournments in an  extremely  liberal  manner remaining  oblivious  of objects and reasons of the  Act  and  also  keeping the windows of wisdom  closed  and  the  sense  of  judicial  responsiveness suspended  to  the  manifest  perceptibility   of   vagrancy,   destitution, impecuniosity, struggle for survival and the  emotional  fracture,   a  wife likely to face under these circumstances  and  further  exhibiting  absolute insensitivity to her condition, who, after loosing support  of  the  husband who has failed to husband  the  marital  status  denies  the  wife  to  have maintenance for almost nine years as that much time is  consumed  to  decide the lis and, in addition, to restrict the grant of maintenance to  the  date of order on some kind of individual notion.   Both  the  approaches,  as  we perceive, not only defeat the command of the legislature but also  frustrate the hope of wife and children who are deprived of  adequate  livelihood  and whose aspirations perish like mushroom and  possibly  the  brief  candle  of sustenance  joins  the  marathon  race  of  extinction.    This   delay   in adjudication by the Family Court is not only against human rights  but  also against the basic embodiment of dignity of an individual.

Be it ingeminated that Section 125 of the Code of  Criminal  Procedure  (for short "the Code") was conceived to ameliorate the agony, anguish,  financial suffering of a woman who left her matrimonial home for the reasons  provided in the provision so that some suitable  arrangements  can  be  made  by  the Court and she can sustain herself and also her children  if  they  are  with her.  The concept of sustenance does not necessarily mean to lead  the  life of an animal, feel like an unperson to be thrown away from  grace  and  roam for her basic maintenance somewhere else.  She is entitled in law to lead  a life in the similar manner as she would have  lived  in  the  house  of  her husband.  That is where the status and strata come into play,  and  that  is where the obligations of the husband, in case of a wife, become a  prominent one.  In a proceeding of this nature, the husband  cannot  take  subterfuges to deprive her of the benefit of living with dignity.  Regard being  had  to the solemn pledge at the time of marriage and also in  consonance  with  the statutory law that governs the field, it is the obligation  of  the  husband to see that the wife does not become a destitute, a beggar.  A situation  is not to be maladroitly created whereunder she is compelled to resign  to  her fate and think of life "dust unto dust".  It is totally  impermissible.   In fact, it is the sacrosanct duty to render the financial support even if  the husband is required to earn money  with  physical  labour,  if  he  is  able bodied.  There is no escape route unless there is an order  from  the  Court that the wife is not entitled to get maintenance from  the  husband  on  any legally permissible grounds.

Presently to the facts  which  lie  in  an  extremely  small  compass.   The marriage between the appellant and the husband was solemnized on  27.11.1997 as per Hindu rites and ritual,  and  in  the  wedlock  a  son  was  born  on 16.12.1998.  The respondent, under certain circumstances, had to  leave  the marital home and thereafter filed an application on 28.8.2002 under  Section 125 of the Code  in the Family Court, Jaipur, Rajasthan, claiming  Rs.6000/-per month towards maintenance.  The Family Court finally decided the  matter on 24.8.2011 awarding monthly maintenance of Rs.2500/-  to  the  respondent-wife and Rs.1500/- to the second respondent-son.  Be it stated,  during  the continuance of the Family Court proceedings,  number  of  adjournments  were granted, some taken by the husband and some by the wife. The learned  Family Judge being dissatisfied with the material brought on record  came  to  hold that the respondent-wife  was  entitled  to  maintenance  and,  accordingly, fixed the quantum and directed that the maintenance  to  be  paid  from  the date of the order. ; ;

Being dissatisfied with the aforesaid order  the  respondent-wife  preferred S.B. Criminal Revision Petition No. 1526 of 2011 before the  High  Court  of Judicature at Rajasthan and the  learned  single  Judge,  vide  order  dated 28.5.2012, noted the contention of the  wife  that  the  maintenance  should have been granted from the date of application, and that  she  had  received nothing during the  proceedings  and  suffered  immensely  and,  eventually, directed that the maintenance should be granted from the date of  filing  of the application.

Criticizing the aforesaid order,  it  is  submitted  Mr.  Jay  Kishor  Singh learned counsel for the appellant that  when  number  of  adjournments  were sought by the wife, grant of maintenance from the  date  of  filing  of  the application by the High Court is absolutely illegal and unjustified.  It  is his submission that the wife cannot take advantage of her own wrong.

Ms. Ruchi Kohli, learned counsel for the respondents would submit  that  the Family Court adjourned the matter sometimes on  its  own  and  the  enormous delay  took  place  because  of  non-cooperation  of  the  husband  in   the proceedings and, therefore, the wife who was compelled  to  sustain  herself and her son with immense difficulty should not be allowed to suffer.  It  is proponed by her that the High Court by modifying  the  order  and  directing that the maintenance should be granted  from  the  date  of  filing  of  the application has not committed any legal infirmity and hence,  the  order  is inexceptionable.

At the outset, we are obliged to  reiterate  the  principle  of  law  how  a proceeding under Section 125 of the Code has to be dealt with by the  court, and what is the duty of a Family Court after establishment  of  such  courts by the  Family  Courts  Act,  1984.   In  Smt.  Dukhtar  Jahan  v.  Mohammed Farooq[1], the Court opined that proceedings under Section 125 of the  Code, it must be remembered, are of a summary nature and are  intended  to  enable destitute wives and children, the latter  whether  they  are  legitimate  or illegitimate, to get maintenance in a speedy manner. ; ;

A three-Judge Bench in Vimla (K.) v. Veeraswamy  (K.)[2],  while  discussing about the basic purpose under Section 125 of the Code, opined  that  Section 125 of the Code is meant to achieve a social  purpose.   The  object  is  to prevent vagrancy and destitution.  It  provides  a  speedy  remedy  for  the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.

A two-Judge Bench  in  Kirtikant  D.  Vadodaria  v.  State  of  Gujarat  and another[3], while adverting to the dominant purpose behind  Section  125  of the Code, ruled that:

"While dealing with the ambit  and  scope  of  the
provision  contained  in Section 125 of the Code, it
has to be borne in mind that  the  dominant  and
primary object is to give social justice to  the
woman,  child  and  infirm parents etc. and to prevent
destitution and  vagrancy  by  compelling  those who
can support those who are unable to support themselves
but have a  moral claim for support. The provisions in
Section 125 provide a speedy remedy  to those women,
children  and  destitute  parents  who  are  in
distress.  The provisions in Section 125 are intended
to achieve this special purpose.  The dominant purpose
behind the benevolent provisions contained in  Section
125 clearly is that the wife,  child  and  parents
should  not  be  left  in  a helpless state of
distress, destitution and starvation."

In Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai[4],  reiterating  the  legal  position  the  Court held: -

"Section 125 CrPC is a measure of social justice and
is  specially  enacted to protect women and children
and as noted by this Court in  Captain  Ramesh Chander
Kaushal v. Veena Kaushal[5] falls  within
constitutional  sweep  of Article 15(3) reinforced by
Article 39 of the Constitution of India.  It  is meant
to achieve a social purpose. The object is  to
prevent  vagrancy  and destitution. It provides a
speedy remedy for the supply  of  food,  clothing and
shelter to the deserted wife. It gives effect to
fundamental rights  and natural duties of a man to
maintain his  wife,  children  and  parents  when they
are  unable  to  maintain  themselves.  The  aforesaid
position   was highlighted in Savitaben Somabhai
Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat[6]."

Recently in Nagendrappa Natikar v. Neelamma[7], it has been stated  that  it is a piece of social legislation which provides for  a  summary  and  speedy relief by way of maintenance to a wife who is  unable  to  maintain  herself and her children.

The Family Courts have been established for adopting  and  facilitating  the conciliation procedure and to deal with family  disputes  in  a  speedy  and expeditious manner.  A three-Judge  Bench  in  K.A.  Abdul  Jaleel  v.  T.A. Shahida[8], while highlighting on the purpose  of  bringing  in  the  Family Courts Act by the legislature, opined thus: -

"The Family Courts Act was enacted  to  provide  for
the  establishment  of Family Courts with a view to
promote  conciliation  in,  and  secure  speedy
settlement of, disputes relating to marriage  and
family  affairs  and  for matters connected therewith."

The purpose of highlighting this aspect is that in  the  case  at  hand  the proceeding before the Family Court was conducted without being alive to  the objects and reasons of the Act  and  the  spirit  of  the  provisions  under Section 125 of the Code.  It is unfortunate  that  the  case  continued  for nine years before the Family Court.  It has come to the notice of the  Court that on certain occasions the Family Courts have been granting  adjournments in a routine manner as a consequence of which both the  parties  suffer  or, on certain occasions, the wife  becomes  the  worst  victim.   When  such  a situation occurs, the purpose  of  the  law  gets  totally  atrophied.   The Family Judge is expected to be sensitive to the issues, for  he  is  dealing with extremely delicate and sensitive issues pertaining to the marriage  and issues ancillary thereto.  When we say this, we do not mean that the  Family Courts should show undue haste or impatience, but  there  is  a  distinction between impatience and to be wisely  anxious  and  conscious  about  dealing with  a  situation.   A  Family  Court  Judge  should  remember   that   the procrastination is the greatest assassin of the lis before it.  It not  only gives rise to more family problems but  also  gradually  builds  unthinkable and Everestine bitterness.  It  leads  to  the  cold  refrigeration  of  the hidden feelings, if still left.  The delineation of the lis  by  the  Family Judge must reveal the awareness and balance.  Dilatory  tactics  by  any  of the parties has to be sternly dealt with, for the Family Court Judge has  to be alive to  the  fact  that  the  lis  before  him  pertains  to  emotional fragmentation and delay can feed it to grow.  We hope  and  trust  that  the Family Court Judges shall remain alert to this and  decide  the  matters  as expeditiously as possible keeping in view the objects  and  reasons  of  the Act  and  the  scheme  of  various  provisions  pertaining   to   grant   of maintenance, divorce, custody of child, property disputes, etc. ; ;

While dealing with the relevant date  of  grant  of  maintenance,  in  Shail Kumari  Devi  and  another  v.  Krishan  Bhagwal  Pathak  alias  Kishun   B. Pathak[9], the Court referred to the Code of Criminal Procedure  (Amendment) Act, 2001 (Act 50 of 2001) and came to hold that even  after  the  amendment of 2001, an order for payment of maintenance can be paid by a  court  either from the date of order or when express order  is  made  to  pay  maintenance from the date of application, then the amount of  maintenance  may  be  paid from that date, i.e., from the date of application. The  Court  referred  to the decision in Krishna Jain v. Dharam Raj  Jain[10]  wherein  it  has  been stated that to hold that, normally maintenance should be made  payable  from the date of the order and not from the date of the application  unless  such order is backed by reasons would amount to inserting something more  in  the sub-section which the  legislature  never  intended.   The  High  Court  had observed that it was unable to read in sub-section (2) laying down any  rule to award maintenance from the date of the order or that the grant  from  the date of the application is an exception.  The High  Court  had  also  opined that whether maintenance is granted from the date of the order or  from  the date of application, the Court is required to  record  reasons  as  required under sub-section (6) of Section 354 of the Code.  After  referring  to  the decision in Krishna Jain (supra), the Court adverted to the decision of  the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in K. Sivaram v. K. Mangalamba[11]  wherein  it has been ruled that the maintenance would be awarded from the  date  of  the order  and  such  maintenance  could  be  granted  from  the  date  of   the application only by recording special reasons.   The  view  of  the  learned single Judge of the High Court of  Andhra  Pradesh  stating  that  it  is  a normal rule that the Magistrate should grant maintenance only from the  date of the order and not from the date of the application  for  maintenance  was not accepted by this Court.  Eventually, the Court ruled thus: -

"43. We, therefore, hold that while deciding an
application  under  Section 125 of the Code, a
Magistrate is required to record reasons for granting
or refusing  to  grant  maintenance  to  wives,
children  or   parents.   Such maintenance can be
awarded from the date of the order, or,  if  so
ordered, from the date of the application for
maintenance, as the case  may  be.  For awarding
maintenance from the date of  the  application,
express  order  is necessary. No special reasons,
however, are required to be recorded  by  the court.
In our judgment, no such requirement can be read in
sub-section  (1) of Section 125 of the Code in absence
of express provision to that effect."

In the present case, as we find, there was enormous  delay  in  disposal  of the proceeding under Section 125 of the  Code  and  most  of  the  time  the husband had taken adjournments and some  times  the  court  dealt  with  the matter showing total laxity.  The wife  sustained  herself  as  far  as  she could in that state for a period of nine years.  The circumstances,  in  our considered  opinion,  required  grant  of  maintenance  from  the  date   of application and by so granting the High Court has not  committed  any  legal infirmity.  Hence, we concur with the order of the High Court.  However,  we direct, as prayed by the learned counsel for the respondent, that he may  be allowed to pay the arrears along with the maintenance awarded at present  in a phased manner.  Learned counsel for the appellant did not object  to  such an arrangement being made.  In view of the aforesaid, we direct  that  while paying the maintenance as fixed by the learned Family Court Judge per  month by  5th  of  each  succeeding  month,  the  arrears  shall  be  paid  in   a proportionate manner within a period of three years from today. ; ;

Consequently, the appeal, being devoid of merits, stands dismissed.


                                                               [Dipak Misra]


                                                           [V. Gopala Gowda]

New Delhi;

July 15, 2014.

[1]    (1987) 1 SCC 624
[2]    (1991) 2 SCC 375
[3]    (1996) 4 SCC 479
[4]    (2008) 2 SCC 316
[5]    (1978) 4 SCC 70
[6]    (2005) 3 SCC 636
[7]    2013 (3) SCALE 561
[8]    (2003) 4 SCC 166
[9]    (2008) 9 SCC 632
[10]   1992 Cri LJ 1028 (MP)
[11]   1990 Cri LJ 1880 (AP)



FOLLOW on twitter or on wordpress or  FOR 100s of high court and supreme court cases
Father of a lovely daughter, criminal in the eyes of a wife, son of an compassionate elderly mother, old timer who hasn't given up, Male, activist