Q. I am a working woman. Is it possible for me to claim maintenance through Court? My father had spent some amount for the purpose of my in-laws at the time of marriage? Can I claim that amount?
Section 18 of The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 states about Maintenance of Wife. Maintenance includes providing food, clothing, education, residence, and medical attendance and treatment, for unmarried daughter her marriage expenses is explained under of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. Maintenance to a working women is usually not given if she can maintain herself with her own income. But in some exceptional cases court has taken a different view.
Supreme Court in Chaturbhuj vs Sita Bai on (27 November, 2007)has ruled that a woman can claim maintenance if he has deserted her eventhough she makes efforts to earn her income monthly. Justice ArijitPasayat and AftabAlam gave a wider interpretation of “unable to maintain herself” and have said that it does not only mean that the wife should be an absolute destitute when she applies for maintenance after desertion under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Court held that the husband pay his wife an amount of Rs 1,500 a month to his for her living expenses. Court also has held that while deciding the amount to be given to woman as maintenance it should be based on if she can maintain herself the way she did while she was in her husband’s house.
In another case SavitabenSomabhaiBhatiya vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on (10 March, 2005) court held that when wife, children and parents are unable to maintain themselves it is natural duties of a man to maintain them.
Under Section 23 of the Act court will be at discretion with regard to amount of maintenance that will be awarded like position and status of the parties, reasonable wants of the claimant, value of claimant’s property and income from such property, whether the claimant living separately is justifiable.
You also said that some amount was spent on your in-laws by your father during your marriage, here we need to be clear if it was a demand by your in-laws or not. If your in-laws had demanded the said amount from your father for some purpose then it amounts to dowry and you can sue your in-laws for dowry and claim the amount under Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.
by Sushma Javare.