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Wife can seek maintenance on behalf of major child: Bombay HC PDF Print E-mail
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Written by PTI   

PTI Sep 1, 2011, 05.26pm IST

The Bombay High Court has held that an estranged wife can seek maintenance from her husband for and on behalf of her major daughter or son so long as the child is dependent on her.

"A daughter may have attained majority but so long as she is unmarried and dependent on mother, she is entitled to maintenance from her father's earnings," ruled Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice R Y Ganoo.

The ruling was delivered on August 26 on an appeal filed by Vijaykumar Chawla, a businessman, against a family court order which ordered him to pay Rs 40,000 per month to his daughter, Shraddha, who was staying with her mother and undergoing a pilot's training course.
Shraddha had obtained a loan for the course and was obliged to pay Rs 40,000 per month EMI towards the same. The court ordered the appellant to deduct Rs eight lakh already paid to his daughter for education expenses and pay the remaining amount of loan taken by her to pursue her career.

According to the provisions of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, a child can claim maintenance from his father or mother so long as he or she is minor. However, section 20(3) is an exception which obligates a person to maintain his or her daughter who is unmarried and unable to maintain herself out of her earnings or property, the bench ruled.

"In the present case, it is not in dispute that Shraddha is residing with her mother. She is unmarried. Her mother has no own earnings or other property except the income by way of meager salary earned by her. She is thus not in a position to take the burden of education expenditure of her daughter which is quite substantial for undergoing the professional course," the bench observed.

The judges referred to Section 21 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act which defines the term 'Dependants'. Clause (v) of this section encompasses unmarried daughter as Dependant.

"Therefore, there can be no doubt that an unmarried daughter is entitled to get maintenance amount from her father or mother, as the case may be, so long as she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property".

"For that reason, Shraddha is entitled to maintenance amount and education expenses from her father (appellant). He (the appellant) will be bound to not only maintain his unmarried daughter but is also responsible for her education including higher education until her marriage," they held.

The appellant and respondent got married on November 12, 1986. Out of the said wedlock daughter Shraddha was born on August 15, 1987. Later, son Siddhesh was born on April 26, 1990. The couple, however, started staying separately due to their differences from 1999.

The appellant filed petition under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act for decree of restitution of conjugal rights. However, he withdrew the petition as he believed that the respondent was not willing to join him. He then filed a petition on September, 13, 2007 for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion.

The respondent, on the other hand, filed a petition on April 23, 2008 in the family court seeking maintenance for herself and daughter and other consequential reliefs.


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