Can a woman & children get maintenance under Civil & Criminal Law?

Maintenance basically means giving regular money (alimony) to one’s wife, parents & children. It is the duty of every person to maintain his wife, children, parents & other persons who cannot live on their own.

In India, many laws have been made under the Civil and the Criminal law to regulate & implement laws related to maintenance.

In 2005, A special law called the Domestic Violence Act came into force to tackle issues related to marriage and divorce. Cruelty, maintenance, Injury, Harassment etc. are some of the issues tackled by the act.

The Domestic Violence Act under section 20(1)(d), talks about maintenance.

It says that the court or the magistrate can order a person to pay maintenance in the form of money (alimony) to his wife, his children whether they are below or above the age of 18 & his parents.

Further, under the Criminal Law too, an act called Criminal Procedure Code also talks about maintenance under section 125. It says that if any person denies to pay maintenance to his children, his wife or his parents, the courts can order him to pay sufficient maintenance to them.

Now the question arises that maintenance has been talked about in Civil law, Criminal Code & again in the domestic Violence act too. So, can maintenance be given together under all these acts or only through one of them?

The answer is Yes, maintenance can be given to a women & her children whether above 18 years or age or not, through all these acts.

Section 20(1)(d) while talking about maintenance also says that the section can be claimed individually or in addition to an order of section 125 of Criminal Law or any other relevant law as well.

Further, time and again the Indian Courts have also allowed & upheld the same argument.

In the case of Shome Nikhil Danani vs. Tanya Banon Danani (22.07.2019), wherein, the hon’ble Coram (Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, JJ.) of the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of the high court granting her maintenance under both the acts, the Supreme Court stated that the High Court was correct in saying that if a woman has claimed maintenance under criminal code, she can again approach the court and seek relief under the domestic violence act.

Further again in the case of Rajnesh v Neha(04.11.2020), it was held by the Supreme Court coram (Indu Malhotra & R. Subhash Reddy, JJ) that-

“It is well settled that a wife can make a claim for maintenance under different laws. A woman can ask for maintenance under the criminal Code, the domestic Violence Act and also under the Hindu Marriage Act.

However, while giving the order to the husband to pay maintenance under all these acts, the courts must check with both the parties if any maintenance has been granted to the women & children and if yes, then how much & then the court must decide how much more maintenance should be given.

Through many other judgements too, the Indian courts have said again and again an aggrieved woman can claim maintenance under the criminal code, the domestic violence act or any other law.

 

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