Rajnesh vs Neha and Anr., Criminal Appeal No. 730 of 2020

Facts: This present criminal appeal arises out of Interim Maintenance Petition filed u/s 125 Cr.P.C. by the respondent wife Neha. The wife left her matrimonial home in January 2013 after the birth of the son who is also a respondent in this appeal. She has filed an application for interim maintenance on behalf of herself and her minor son. The family court gave an order that an interim maintenance of Rs. 15,000/- will be given to the RespondentNo.1 i.e. the wife, per month from 01.09.2013, and Rs. 5,000 permonth will be given as interim maintenance to the Respondent No. 2 i.e. the son from 01.09.2013 to 31.08.2015; and that the amount will exceed to Rs. 10,000 per month from 01.09.2015 onwards. A writ against the mentioned order of Nagpur Family Court, was filed in Bombay High Court. The High Court dismissed the petition. Later the matter was presented in the Apex Court.

 Issues:

a) Overlapping jurisdiction

b) Payment of Interim Maintenance

c) Criteria for determining quantum of maintenance

d) Date from which maintenance will be awarded

e) Enforcement of orders of maintenance

Judgment:The Supreme Court in the present case has framed guidelines on overlapping jurisdiction under different statutes for the payment of maintenance, payment of Interim Maintenance, to decide on the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance and to give a verdict on the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance. The Court while considering the above-mentioned issues, noticed that no party can be barred from approaching the court under one or more statutes as each and every Act is unique and independent in its own way. However, parallel operation of these acts would lead to multiplicity of proceedings hindering the courts in taking up other important cases. This would also cause contradictory orders. Hence, the court directed that in a subsequent maintenance proceeding, the applicant shall disclose all the previous maintenance proceedings, and the orders passed therein, so that the Court would take into consideration the maintenance already awarded in the previous proceeding, and grant an adjustment or set-off of the said amount. For the payment of interim maintenance, the court has ordered that 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 / Magistrate Court, as the case may be, throughout the country. The court also gave guidelines on which the quantum of maintenance will be decided which includes status of living, financial capacity, termination of the relationship, if the wife is working and the expenses a father needs to cover for his child. The court also stated that in order to prevent a dependent from being reduced to destitution and vagrancy, it is necessary that maintenance be awarded from the date on which the application for maintenance is filed before the concerned Court.It is justly acknowledged by this latest landmark judgment that, “Maintenance laws have been enacted as a measure of social justice to provide recourse to dependent wives and children for their financial support, so as to prevent them from falling into destitution and vagrancy.” Thus at any cost, no person can deny paying the maintenance. 

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