Trace Your Case

RAJNESH V. NEHA AND ANOTHER

Rajnesh v. Neha and Another, Cr. A No. 730 OF 2020

ISSUE:

  • Whether wife can claim maintenance under different statutes?
  • Is there a time limit for disposal of proceedings relating to interim maintenance?

RULE:

  • Section 125 of the Hindu Maintenance Act.
  • Section 28A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1956
  • Section 20(6) of the D.V. Act and
  • Section 128 of Cr.P.C. as may be applicable.

FACTS:

  • The Respondent No.1-wife left the matrimonial home in January 2013, shortly after the birth of the son-Respondent No.2.
  • The wife applied interim maintenance u/S. 125 Cr.P.C. on behalf of herself and the minor son. The Family Court vide a detailed Order awarded interim maintenance of Rs.15,000 per month to the Respondent No.1- wife from and Rs.5,000 per month as interim maintenance for the Respondent No.2-son and 10,000 after till the main petition was passed.
  • The Appellant (husband) challenged the Order of the Family Court to vide Criminal Writ Petition filed before the Bombay High Court. The High Court dismissed the Writ Petition and affirmed the Judgment passed by the Family Court
  • Aggrieved with the order of the High Court, the husband appealed before the Supreme Court.
  • The husband appeared before the Court and made an oral statement that he did not have the financial means to comply with the Order of maintenance payable to the Respondent No.1-wife, and had to borrow loans from his father to pay the same.
  • He however stated that he had paid the maintenance awarded to the son, and would continue to do so without demur. Both parties addressed arguments and filed their written submissions.
  • The wife has inter alia submitted that the amount of Rs.10, 000 awarded for the son was granted when he was 2 ½ years old in 2015.
  • The said amount was now highly inadequate to meet the expenses of a growing child, who is 7 ½ years old and is a school-going boy.
  • It was further submitted that the admission fee for the current academic year 2020-2021 had not yet been paid. If the fee was not paid within time, the school would discontinue sending the link for online classes.
  • She submitted that she was being overburdened by the growing expenses, with no support from the husband.
  • Concerning the contention of the husband that he had no income, she submitted that the husband had made investments in real estate projects, and other businesses, which he was concealing from the Court, and diverting the income to his parents.
  • Concerning the contention of the husband that he had no income, she submitted that the husband had made investments in real estate projects, and other businesses, which he was concealing from the Court, and diverting the income to his parents.
  • It has also been alleged that the Appellant had retained illegal possession of her Streedhan, which he was refusing to return. Despite orders being passed by this Court, and in the proceedings under the D.V. Act, he was deliberately not complying with the same. In these circumstances, it was submitted that there was a major trust deficit, and there was no prospect for reconciliation.

HELD:

  • The Supreme Court affirmed the Judgment and order passed by the Family Court, affirmed by the Bombay High Court, for payment of interim maintenance @ Rs.15,000 p.m. to the wife, and Rs.10,000 p.m. to the son.
  • The husband was directed to pay the entire arrears of maintenance @ Rs.15, 000 p.m., within 12 weeks from the date of this Judgment, and continue to comply with this Order during the pendency of the proceedings u/S. 125 Cr.P.C. before the Family Court.
  • If the husband failed to comply with the aforesaid directions of this Court, it would be open to the respondents to have the Order enforced u/S.128 Cr.P.C. and take recourse to all other remedies which are available under law.
  • The court also passed directions to overcome the issue of overlapping of jurisdiction which has to be followed by the Family Courts/District Courts/Magistrate Courts throughout the country:
  • Where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the Court would consider an adjustment or setoff, of the amount awarded in the previous proceeding/s, while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding.
  • It is made mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding.
  • If the order passed in the previous proceeding/s requires any modification or variation, it would be required to be done in the same proceeding.
  • It also issued directions regarding Payment of Interim Maintenance as, the Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities, shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country.
  • It also issued directions related to Criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance; Date from which maintenance is to be awarded, Enforcement / Execution of orders of maintenance.