When DIL is liable to pay Maintenance to MIL under Section 125 of Cr.P.C ?

IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY

(AURANGABAD BENCH)
Criminal Revision Application No. 86 of 2007
Decided On: 06.03.2009

Smt. Saroj W/o Govind Mukkawar
Vs.
Smt. Chandrakalabai Polshetwar and The State of Maharashtra

Hon’ble Judges/Coram:S.S. Shinde, J.

Criminal – Maintenance – Claim of – Entitlement of Mother-in-law – Section 20 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 – Sections 125 and 125(1) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 – Section 125 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Respondent No. 1 mother-in-law of present applicant – Applicant got job on compassionate grounds on death of her husband – Also received gratuity etc. – Neglected to maintain Respondent No. 1 – Application claiming maintenance filed by Respondent No. 1 – Application dismissed by learned J.M.F.C. on the ground that mother-in-law not entitled to claim maintenance from daughter-in-law under Section 125 Cr.PC – Revision filed by Respondent No. 1 allowed and applicant directed to pay Rs. 1,000/- per month as maintenance to Respondent No. 1 – Hence, present Revision application -Held, at the time of obtaining appointment on compassionate grounds present applicant gave undertaking to support Respondent No. 1 – Deceased only son of Respondent No. 1 – Respondent No. 1 aged person and has no source of income – Respondent No. 1 entitled to claim maintenance from present Applicant – Revision application dismissed Mother-in-law, who is aged and has no source of income, is entitled to claim maintenance from her daughter-in-law.

1. This application is filed praying for quashing and setting aside the judgment and order dated 12.1.2007 passed by the Sessions Judge, Nanded in Criminal Revision Application No. 139 of 2006 and restoration of the judgment and order dated 11.8.2005 passed by the J.M.F.C., 2nd Court Nanded in M.C.A. No. 177/2004.

2. The brief facts of the case are as under:The present respondent No. 1 filed Misc. Criminal Application No. 177/2004 against the present applicant for maintenance under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. The present applicant is daughter-in-law of respondent No. 1 herein. It is the case of the original applicant – respondent No. 1 herein that she is widow of 65 years old. Her sole son died on 14.3.1995. Her daughter-in-law got employment in Zilla Parishad on compassionate ground after death of her sole son Venkatesh. The present applicant/petitioner is getting salary of Rs. 10,000/- per month. Respondent No. 1 herein is unable to maintain herself. The applicant, besides her monthly salary, has received a sum of Rs. 1,56,000/- from Zilla Parishad towards gratuity etc. of her deceased husband and thereby she is able to pay separate maintenance. The applicant has driven the present respondent No. 1 from her house and thereby refused to maintain her. Therefore, the original applicant – respondent No. 1 herein claimed a sum of Rs. 1500/- per month towards maintenance.

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3. The learned J.M.F.C. rejected the application of the respondent No. 1 herein on the ground that the mother-in-law is not entitled to claim maintenance from her daughter-in-law and said provision does not exist under Section 125 of Cr.P.C.

4. Being aggrieved, the present respondent No. 1 filed criminal Revision Petition No. 139 of 2006. The revisional Court framed necessary points for its determination and held that the respondent No. 1 herein is entitled for maintenance under Section 125 of C.P.C. and directed the present applicant to pay Rs. 1000/- per month the respondent No. 1 herein.

5. Being aggrieved by the said order, the present application is filed by the applicant.

6. The learned Counsel for the applicant submitted that the application which was filed by respondent No. 1 herein was not maintainable under Section 125(1)(d) of Cr.P.C. against the present applicant, who is daughter-in-law of the respondent No. 1. The learned Counsel further invited my attention to the reported judgment of the Supreme Court in case of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujarat and Anr. (1996)4SCC479 and submitted that in the said judgment the Apex Court has held that the stepmother is not entitled for maintenance. The expression “mother” in Section 125(1)(d) of Cr.P.C. means only real or natural mother and does not include stepmother. Stepmother is a distinct and separate entity and cannot be equated with the natural mother who has given birth to the child.The learned Counsel further submitted that the present applicant being daughter-in-law of respondent No. 1, the revision application of respondent No. 1 should not have been entertained by the revisional Court since it was rightly rejected by the J.M.F.C.

7. The learned Counsel for respondent No. 1 submitted that the son of the respondent No. 1 namely Venkatesh, who was husband of the applicant, was working in a school run by Zilla Parishad, Nanded. On 14.3.1995 Venkatesh died and the present applicant received Rs. 1,56,000/- towards gratuity etc. and also she got appointment on compassionate ground against service of Venkatesh. The applicant is earning Rs. 10,000/- per month. He further submitted that at the time of obtaining said compassionate appointment, the applicant had given an undertaking that she will support the present respondent No. 1 – mother-in-law. However, the applicant has not provided any financial assistance to the respondent No. 1 and she is residing separately. He further submitted that both the Courts have given a finding that the present applicant is earning Rs. 10,000/- per month and neglected to maintain the present respondent No. 1. he further submitted that the J.M.F.C. has rejected the application of respondent No. 1 only on the ground that the application filed by respondent No. 1 against daugter-in-law is not maintainable under Section 125(1)(d) of the Cr.P.C.He further submitted that the respondent No. 1 is old lady, having no source of income, she is surviving on sympathy of her neighbours and is not capable to do any work and to earn her livelihood. He submitted that in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, this Court may not interfere with the impugned judgment and order passed by the revisional court.

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8. Heard learned Counsel for the parties, perused the contents of the application, annexures thereto and the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria (supra). I am of the considered view that the revision application deserves to be rejected.

9. Firstly, the respondent No. 1 is old lady having age of more than 65 years and the courts below has recorded the findings that she is not able to maintain herself, she has no source of income. It is pertinent to note that Venkatesh was the only son of respondent No. 1 who died and the present applicant has been appointed on compassionate ground against service of Venkatesh in the Zilla Parishad, Nanded. It does not fit in the mouth of the applicant that respondent No. 1 being her mother-in-law, is not entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125(1)(d) of Cr.P.C. Moreover, as rightly contended by the learned Counsel for respondent No. 1 that at the time of obtaining the appointment on compassionate ground, the present applicant had given an undertaking that she will support the present respondent No. 1. The deceased Venkatesh being the only son of respondent No. 1 and the applicant had got the employment on compassionate ground and she is earning Rs. 10,000/- per month, respondent No. 1 is rightly held by the revisional Court as entitled to claim separate maintenance at the rate of Rs. 1000/- per month from the present applicant.

10. I have perused the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Kirtikant D. Vadodaria (supra). In the peculiar facts and circumstances of that case, the Apex Court came to the conclusion that surviving real and natural born sons who are well to do, the stepmother was not entitled to claim maintenance from stepson. In paragraph 15 of the said judgment, the Supreme Court, while dealing with the benevolent provision and ambit of Section 125 of Cr.P.C., observed:…Consequently to achieve this object a childless stepmother may claim maintenance from her stepson provided she is a widow or her husband, if living, is also incapable of supporting and maintaining her. The obligation of the son to maintain his father, who is unable to maintain himself, is unquestionable. When she claims maintenance from her natural born children, she does so in her status as their ‘mother’. Such an interpretation would be in accord with the explanation attached to Section 20 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 because to exclude altogether the personal law applicable to the parties from consideration in matters of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code may not be wholly justified. However, no intention of legislature can be read in Section 125 of the Code that even though a mother has her real and natural born son or sons and a husband capable of maintaining her, she could still proceed against her stepson to claim maintenance.

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11. In that case, the stepmother preferred to claim maintenance only from stepson leaving out her natural born sons and husband who were well to do and, therefore, the Apex Court, in the facts of that case, held that the stepmother is not entitled to claim maintenance from her stepson.

12. In the present case, it is admitted position that the applicant has secured the employment on the compassionate ground in place of Venkatesh who was the only son of the respondent No. 1 and that too, by filing an undertaking that she will take care of respondent No. 1. Apart from that, the fact that the respondent No. 1 is an old aged person having age of more than 65 years and not able to maintain herself and has no source of livelihood, is not disputed by the applicant herein. The peculiar facts of this case warrants that respondent No. 1 is entitled to get maintenance from the present applicant. The revisional Court has recorded the reasons in paragraph 11 and 12 of the judgment and I fully agree with the reasoning given by the revisional Court.

13. In the facts and circumstances of the case, respondent No. 1 is entitled for maintenance from the applicant. The learned Counsel for the applicant submitted that in pursuant to the order dated 19th April, 2007, the applicant has deposited some amount in the Court out of the amount which was received towards gratuity etc. The respondent No. 1 is entitled to withdraw the said amount from the Court.The revision application is rejected.

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