In Indian law, a Maintenance Petition is a legal recourse available to individuals seeking financial support from their spouse or family members. It is primarily governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the various personal laws applicable in the country, such as the Hindu Marriage Act, the Muslim Personal Law, and the Indian Divorce Act, among others. As per the law, a Maintenance Petition can be filed by a person who is unable to sustain themselves financially and requires monetary assistance for their day-to-day living expenses. Usually, it is filed by the wives seeking maintenance from their husbands post-divorce or undergoing divorce proceedings, but it can also be initiated by children or dependent family members who are unable to support themselves. It acts as a safety net and the purpose is to ensure that individuals who are unable to meet their basic needs receive adequate financial support from their spouse or family members who have the means to provide such assistance. The court assesses the financial position and obligations of the party from whom maintenance is sought, as well as the needs and expenses of the person filing the petition. Based on these factors, the court determines the amount of maintenance to be awarded to the petitioner.
What is Maintenance Petition?
In Indian law, a Maintenance Petition is a legal recourse available to individuals seeking financial support from their spouse or family members. It is primarily governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the various personal laws applicable in the country, such as the Hindu Marriage Act, the Muslim Personal Law, and the Indian Divorce Act, among others.
As per the law, a Maintenance Petition can be filed by a person who is unable to sustain themselves financially and requires monetary assistance for their day-to-day living expenses. Usually, it is filed by the wives seeking maintenance from their husbands post-divorce or undergoing divorce proceedings, but it can also be initiated by children or dependent family members who are unable to support themselves. It acts as a safety net and the purpose is to ensure that individuals who are unable to meet their basic needs receive adequate financial support from their spouse or family members who have the means to provide such assistance. The court assesses the financial position and obligations of the party from whom maintenance is sought, as well as the needs and expenses of the person filing the petition. Based on these factors, the court determines the amount of maintenance to be awarded to the petitioner.
Grounds to Seek Maintenance Petition
The grounds to seek a maintenance petition in India may vary based on the personal laws applicable to different religious communities. However, there exist some common grounds recognized across personal laws which include:
- Desertion: When one spouse wilfully abandons the other without any reasonable cause or consent, the deserted spouse can claim maintenance from the spouse who has deserted him or her.
- Adultery: If a spouse engages in an extramarital relationship, the other spouse may seek maintenance on the grounds of adultery.
- Cruelty: Physical or mental cruelty inflicted by one spouse upon the other may be a valid ground for seeking maintenance.
- Conversion: In cases where one spouse converts to another religion, the other spouse may seek maintenance.
- Dissolution of Marriage: It is the most common ground for maintenance. During divorce proceedings, either spouse may seek maintenance based on their financial needs and the other spouse's ability to provide support.
- Unemployment or Inability to Work: If a spouse is unemployed, disabled, or unable to support themselves financially, they can seek maintenance from the earning spouse.
- Dependent Children: Parents can seek maintenance on behalf of their dependent children, ensuring they receive adequate financial support for their upbringing and education.
Who can seek Maintenance?
In accordance with Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), an application for maintenance can be made by any of the following parties who are unable to support themselves:
- The Wife: A wife can claim maintenance from her husband as per Section 125 of CrPc on the grounds stated above. However, under miscellaneous circumstances, a claim for maintenance may be defeated as per Section 125(4) if: a) the wife is engaged in an adulterous course of life; b) the wife unjustifiably refuses to live with her husband c) the husband and wife are living separately by mutual consent (to be evaluated based on the facts and circumstances).
- Minors: This category includes the following individuals: a) Unmarried legitimate children. b) Married legitimate children. c) Unmarried illegitimate children. d) Married illegitimate children. e) Children who have reached the age of majority but are unable to maintain themselves due to physical abnormality, mental abnormality, or injury.
The provisions of maintenance also apply to the following individuals:
a) Legitimate or illegitimate married sons
b) Legitimate or illegitimate unmarried daughters.
It is important to note that if a married daughter is unable to support herself, the primary responsibility for her maintenance lies with her husband.
3. Parents: The obligation to provide maintenance applies to both the father and mother of an individual who is unable to maintain themselves.
These provisions are provided under Section 125 of the CrPC and should be interpreted and applied in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.
How to Draft a Maintenance Petition
It is pertinent to note that drafting a maintenance petition involves careful consideration of the specific details and circumstances of the case. Following is a step-by-step guide to help you in drafting a maintenance petition:
- Heading: Start with putting the appropriate court's name, case number, and parties involved in the case (petitioner and respondent) carefully in the petition.
- Introduction: Provide a brief introduction to the petitioner, mentioning their name, age, occupation, and residential address. Similarly, introduce the respondent, mentioning their name, relationship to the petitioner, and their current address, if known.
- Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is the most important ingredient of a maintenance petition, so state the jurisdiction of the court where the petition is being filed, citing the relevant provisions of the law.
- Facts and Circumstances: Further, present a clear and concise narration of the relevant facts and circumstances that necessitate the claim for maintenance. This includes details such as the marriage date, duration of the marriage, any children from the marriage, current living arrangements, and the financial situation of both the petitioner and the respondent.
- Grounds for Maintenance: Specify the grounds on which the petitioner is seeking maintenance, such as inability to maintain oneself due to lack of income or being dependent on the respondent for financial support.
- Legal Provisions: Now comes the important part, make sure to cite the relevant legal provisions supporting the claim for maintenance, such as Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or any other applicable laws, along with any supporting case laws or precedents.
- Relief Sought: Clearly state the relief or remedies sought by the petitioner, which typically includes the amount of maintenance sought, duration of maintenance, and any additional expenses or benefits requested.
- Supporting Documents: Attach necessary supporting documents, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates of children, income proof, bank statements, medical reports (if applicable), and any other relevant documents that strengthen the petitioner's case.
- Prayer: Conclude the petition with a prayer to the court, requesting the court to pass an order for the grant of maintenance as per the petitioner's claim.
- Verification and Affidavit: Include a verification clause where the petitioner declares that the facts stated in the petition are true to the best of their knowledge and belief. Additionally, an affidavit confirming the authenticity of the contents of the petition should be attached.
- Annexures: List all the annexures or attachments included with the petition, providing a brief description of each document.
- Signature and Date: The petition should be signed by the petitioner or their advocate, along with mentioning the date of filing.
Recent Guidelines of the Supreme Court
For Wife - The Supreme Court, in the case of Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit, held that the validity of a marriage can be established based on the evidence presented by the parties. The Court emphasized that the presumption in favor of marriage exists regardless of whether the marriage rites were fully conducted according to Hindu customs. Additionally, in situations where the spouses have cohabited for a significant duration but one of them denies the marital status, a rebuttable presumption can be made. This means that the denial can be challenged by producing evidence to prove the existence of a valid marriage.
In the case of Rajnesh v. Neha, the court recognized that it may be unfair to require the husband to pay maintenance in multiple proceedings. However, it is an established principle that a wife is entitled to seek maintenance under different statutes. Nevertheless, the wife must disclose any maintenance previously awarded to her in a subsequent proceeding filed under a different enactment, as per her legal obligation.
For Children - In the case of Nanak Chand v. Chandra Kishore Aggarwal, the Court expressed the view that dependent adult children who are unable to support themselves due to physical deformity or other disabilities have the right to seek maintenance. It is highly improbable for a 77-year-old son to claim maintenance from his 98-year-old father. While such exceptional situations are rare, they can be addressed and remedied within the scope of the applicable law.
Sample Petition Format
BEFORE THE HON’BLE JUDGE FAMILY COURT NO. …., PUNE
P.A. NO. /2019
Age [•], Occupation: [•]
Presently residing at [•]
Mobile No: [•]
Email Id-[•] PETITIONER
Age [•], Occu.: [•] RESPONDENT
Presently residing at
Mobile No: [•]
E-mail Id: [•]
PETITION FILED UNDER SECTION 125 of the CrPc
THE PETITIONER ABOVENAMED MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH
List of Events Followed
- The Petitioner and the Respondent are [•]
- Case Details [•]
- The Petitioner, being a lady litigant, is exempted from the payment of any court fees.
- There is no other pending litigations between the parties in any other court of law.
5. The Petitioner, therefore, most humbly prays:
b. For any just and reasonable orders to meet the ends of justice.
AND FOR THIS ACT OF KINDNESS THE PETITIONER ABOVE NAMED AS IN DUTY BOUND, SHALL EVER PRAY
Advocate for the Petitioner
I, [•], Age about [•]; Occupation: [•], the Petitioner above named, do hereby state on solemn affirmation that the contents of the above petition are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, information and belief. Solemnly affirmed on this .... day of October, [•], at Pune.
I, Mrs. X, aged (..) years, Occupation (…) and Resident of (….), the Petitioner do solemnly affirm and declare as under:
- That I am the Petitioner in the accompanying Petition under Section 125 of CrPC and well acquainted with the facts of the case which have been drafted on my instruction
2. That the same is true to the best of knowledge and beliefs.
3. That the Petitioner has not remarried and has not been guilty of any conduct disentitling her to receive maintenance from the Respondent and no relevant or material fact has been concealed or kept back.
4. That the Petitioner does not own any movable or immovable property and has also no source of income.
Signed at (place) on (date)