Support for Unmarried Main Daughters, written by Surya Sunilkumar, student of the Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies Student
Abhilasha vs. Parkash & Ors (2020)
On September 15, 2020, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that an unmarried main daughter can claim support from her father. The scope of the applicability of maintenance according to Section 125 of the 1974 Code of Criminal Procedure was determined by this landmark case. That appeal challenged the order of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana when the court dismissed the complainant’s application under Section 482 Cr.Pc regarding the reversal of the order of the first class judge and the judge for additional sessions, Rewari.
Facts of the case
The respondent, mother of the complainant on her behalf and on behalf of her daughter as well as two sons, filed a maintenance suit under Section 125 Cr.PC against her husband. The Judicial Magistrate First Class rejected the application on the grounds that maintenance would be granted until the complainant had obtained a majority. Affected by the decision of the local court, the complainants submitted an application for a criminal review to the court for additional sessions, which was rejected. The judge for additional sessions found that the children who had achieved the majority are entitled to maintenance under Section 125 Cr.PC if they are unable to support themselves due to physical or mental abnormalities or injuries. Later, the Supreme Court re-appealed under Section 482 Cr.Pc and the court upheld the judge’s decision for additional sessions. This appeal was filed to contest the High Court’s decision.
Grounds for the judgment
The Supreme Court ruled the case on the following remark:
• The maintenance claim was made when the applicant was a minor. The application for maintenance was approved by the other court until it reached a majority. Thereafter, the claim that the applicant was neither physically nor mentally disabled was rejected. The applicant’s lawyer relied on Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956.
• Section 20 (3) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956 required a Hindu to support a daughter who is unmarried and unable to support herself on her own income or other property. As noted above, prior to the 1956 law coming into effect, Hindu law always required a Hindu to maintain an unmarried daughter who was unable to do so
• The application was submitted to the Judicial Magistrate First Class under Section 125 Cr.PC. When deciding on proceedings under Section 125 Cr.PC, the magistrate could not have exercised the jurisdiction under Section 20 (3) of the 1956 Act, and the applicant’s submission that the following court would have the application for maintenance cannot be accepted allowed, although she has grown up.
• The Supreme Court has tried to examine the scope and applicability of Section 125 Cr.PC in many cases. It was discussed whether personal laws will prevail against the concept of alimony for an unmarried main woman in procedural law.
• The family court held by the court will in future have jurisdiction under both provisions, ie under Section 125 for maintaining the Code of Criminal Procedure and Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.
The maintenance interpreted according to section 20 is a more comprehensive concept, while the maintenance according to section 125 Cr.PC is a narrow concept as it only provides immediate relief to the applicant. The Court therefore ruled that a daughter who is unmarried and unable to support herself can claim support from her father. To enforce this right, the motion or suit must be filed under Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956.
The court also ruled that the first class judge and the additional sessions did not make a weakness in deciding the case as it was outside of his jurisdiction
The court’s decision gave a daughter the freedom to demand maintenance from her father. It should be noted that the Supreme Court has expanded the jurisdiction of the family court as it can rule on the case by putting sections 125 and 20 of different statutes together to seek justice.