Bombay High Court: Unmarried Daughter Though Attained Majority Is Entitled To Claim Maintenance From Her Father

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Case: Agnes Lily Irudaya v Irudaya Kani Arsan

Coram: Smt. Bharathi H. Dangre, J.

The case was filed by the petitioner on behalf of the daughter to claim maintenance in the Family Court. Two core issues were adjudicated upon:

  • Whether an unmarried daughter can claim compensation u/s 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after attaining majority?
  • Whether the petitioner can file on behalf of the daughter who has attained majority?

The Family Court rejected both the contentions. The Court rejected the application for seeking maintenance u/s 125 for the daughter who has attained majority. Simultaneously, the Court also held that the petitioner cannot file on behalf of the daughter who has attained majority. The petitioner then moved to the High Court against the impugned order.

Section 125 of the CrPC mandates maintenance to the wife, minor children (legitimate/illegitimate), children who have attained majority but are unable to maintain themselves due to physical or mental abnormality or injury. The provision does not state the entitlement of maintenance to the child who has attained majority. The premise of the order of the Family Court was upon the simple reading of the law. But, the High Court based its judgment relying upon the reasoning given by the Hon’ Supreme Court of India and did not make the strict interpretation of the provision.

The Court held that a father cannot escape his liability of maintaining the minor daughter who has attained majority. The Court referred to the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Jagdish

Jugtawat Vs. Manju Lata and ors reported in (2002) 5 SCC 422, wherein the combined reading of Section 125 of the CrPC and Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act manifest the right of the minor girl for maintenance from parents after attaining majority.

It is clear that the unmarried daughter though the attained majority is entitled to claim maintenance from her father.

The Court, therefore, answered the first issue in the affirmative reversing the order passed by the Family Court. It is clear that the unmarried daughter though the attained majority is entitled to claim maintenance from her father. The next issue too was answered in the affirmative. The Court rejected the “hypertechnical objection” of the respondent. It stated that the mother i.e. the petitioner approached the court for the maintenance of her daughter to cover her expenses. It found no fault in the petition as it further stated that even if the daughter would have approached the court, the parameters would have been same. Since, the wife has not claimed maintenance for herself and did not deny the factum of her employment, the court in order to avoid multiplicity of the proceeding, found no fault in the petition.

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