New Delhi, Nov 28 (UNI)The Supreme Court has ruled that a deserted wife can claim maintenance under section 125 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) without being absolute destitute as it gives effect to fundamental rights and natural duties of a man to maintain his wife, children and parents when they are unable to maintain themselves.
A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Aftab Alam dismissed the appeal of husband Chaturbhuj challenging Madhya Pradesh High Court order which had upheld directions issued to him to pay Rs 1500 per month as maintenance to his wife Sitabai.
The apex court in its judgement dated November 27 has ruled "the object of the maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy by compelling those who can provide support to those who are unable to support themselves and who have moral claim to support. Section 125 CrPC is a major means of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children. It is meant to achieve a social purpose.
The object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution. It provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.
Under the law the burden is placed in the first place upon the wife to show that the means of her husband are sufficient. There is an inseprable condition which has also to be satisfied that the wife was unable to maintain herself. These two conditions are in addition to the requirement that the husband must have neglected or refused to maintain his wife.
In an illustrative case where wife was surviving by begging, would not amount to her ability to maintain herself.It can also be not said that the wife has been capable of earning but she was not making an effort to earn. The test is whether the wife is in a position to maintain herself in the way she was used to in the place of her husband." The apex court concluded by observing "it was observed that the wife should be in a position to maintain standard of living which is neither luxurious nor penurious but what is consistent with status of a family. The expression 'unable to maintain herself 'does not mean that the wife must be absolutely destitute before she can apply for maintenance under section 125 CrPC." The couple was married for four decades and have been living separately for two decades.