Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

[Arising out of SLP(Crl.) NO. 10353 OF 2018]

 J U D G M E N T
1) Leave granted.
2) The appellants herein are the wife and the son of the respondent. The
present appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 10th
September 2018 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at
Chandigarh in Criminal Revision No. 05/2017, whereby the High Court has
dismissed the Revision application filed by the appellants, challenging the
order passed by the District Judge, Family Court-1, Faridabad, Haryana
(hereinafter referred to as the “Family Court”). The Family Court vide order
dated 09.12.2016 had dismissed the Maintenance Petition filed by the
appellants under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., qua the appellant no. 1 -wife
(original applicant no. 1) and her daughter Ms. Megha Garg (original
applicant no. 2), and had allowed the application qua the son-appellant no. 2
(original applicant no.3) granting him maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/-
per month from the date of filing of application till he attained the age of 18
3) The short facts giving rise to the present Appeal are that the appellant no.1
and the respondent had married on 07.12.1991 as per the Hindu rites and out
of the said wedlock, two children i.e., daughter Megha Garg and son Rachit
Garg were born on 10.10.1992 and 11.04.1999 respectively. The appellants
(original applicants) filed the Maintenance Petition under Section 125 of
Cr.P.C. seeking maintenance from the respondent alleging inter-alia that the
respondent was subjecting the appellant-wife to utmost cruelty and physical
and mental torture. As a result thereof, she had to leave her matrimonial
home along with children time and again. Allegations were also made
against the respondent that he was demanding Rs. One crore as dowry from
the father of the appellant no. 1. Though, her father had given him Rs.
2,00,000/- in 2005, and had also made payment of Rs. 4,50,000/- to one
Rajdip Soan Industries, on behalf of the respondent to pay off the loan, the
respondent had continued to harass the appellant. Ultimately, the appellant
along with her children left the matrimonial home in 2010 and started
residing in a rental premises. According to the appellants-applicants, the
respondent had failed and neglected to maintain them, and they being unable
to maintain themselves, the Maintenance Petition under section 125 of
Cr.P.C. was filed.
4) The said petition was contested by the respondent by filing a reply. The
respondent while not denying the marriage with the appellant no.1, had
denied the allegations with regard to the demand of dowry and harassment.
He also denied that he had failed and neglected to maintain the appellants.
According to him, the appellant had left her matrimonial home along with
children without any reason. The respondent while admitting that daughter
Megha was born out of his wedlock with the appellant, had alleged that the
appellant no. 2 Master Rachit was not his biological son.
5) The Family Court vide the order dated 15.07.2014 had granted Interim
Maintenance Allowance of Rs. 40,000/- per month in favour of the
appellants, however, the daughter Megha having attained majority, no
interim maintenance was granted to her. It appears that the respondent had
filed an application in the Family Court praying for the DNA test to
substantiate his allegation that the son Rachit was not his biological son,
however his application was dismissed by the Family Court vide order dated
19.02.2014. It further appears that despite issuance of conditional warrants
of arrest against the respondent by the Family Court, he had failed to appear
in the Court and to make payment of interim maintenance, and therefore his
defence was also struck off vide the order dated 16.07.2015. The respondent
had challenged all the three orders passed by the Family Court, by filing
Revision Applications before the High Court, however, in none of the said
proceedings, the High Court had granted any stay of the proceedings of the
Family Court. The appellant-wife, therefore, in support of her petition
examined herself along with other 04 witnesses and adduced documentary
evidence, The Family Court after appreciating the said evidence passed the
order rejecting the application of appellant no.1 and her daughter, and
granting maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/- per month to the appellant
no.2 (original applicant no.3). As stated earlier, being aggrieved by the same,
the appellants had preferred the revision application before the High Court,
which has been dismissed vide the impugned order.
6) This Court at the request of ld. counsel for the parties had referred the matter
to the Supreme Court Mediation Centre for exploring the possibility of
settlement, however, the same having failed, this Court had passed the
following order on 17.08.2022:-
“It has been pointed out by the learned counsel for the
parties that the efforts for settlement have not fructified.
Hence, we have commenced hearing of the matter.
During the course of submissions, learned counsel for
the petitioners has made a pertinent point that the
respondent-husband indeed leveled allegation of the
personal nature against the petitioner No. 1 questioning
her chastity, particularly with reference to the birth of the
son and therefore, she cannot be said to be unjustified in
living separate.
We have taken note of the submissions so made and
have posed the question to the learned counsel for
respondent that prima facie the petitioner No. 1 appears to
be justified in living separately and if that be so, her
entitlement to claim maintenance cannot be ignored.
Learned counsel for the respondent prays for time to
complete his instructions as also to advice the respondent
Time, as prayed for, is allowed.”
7) The Court thereafter had heard the learned counsel for the parties, as also the
respondent who was present in person in the Court on 16.09.2022.
8) The learned counsel for the appellants vehemently submitted that the High
Court had passed the impugned order in a very perfunctory manner without
appreciating the conduct of the respondent during the proceedings before the
Family Court. He submitted that the version of the appellant-wife, who had
stepped into the witness box, as also the version of the other witnesses
examined by her had remained unchallenged, as the Family Court had closed
the right of the respondent to cross-examine the witnesses and, therefore,
there was no reason for the Family Court not to believe the version of the
appellant-wife which was stated by her on oath. However, the Family Court
accepted all the oral submissions of the learned counsel for the respondent,
without there being any evidence on record adduced by the respondent, and
disallowed the Maintenance application qua the appellant-wife, and the High
Court also erroneously confirmed the said order passed by the Family Court.
The learned counsel for the respondent however submitted that the
appellant-wife had left the matrimonial home along with the children
without any justifiable reason and had failed to prove that she was unable to
maintain herself. He further submitted that though the respondent has a party
plot, the same having been closed, he has no source of income. According to
him, the concurrent findings of facts recorded by the two courts, should not
be interfered by this Court.
9) At the outset, it may be noted that Section 125 of Cr.P.C. was conceived to
ameliorate the agony, anguish and financial suffering of a woman who is
required to leave the matrimonial home, so that some suitable arrangements
could be made to enable her to sustain herself and the children, as observed
by this Court in Bhuwan Mohan Singh vs. Meena & Ors.1
 . This Court in
the said case, after referring to the earlier decisions, has reiterated the
principle of law as to how the proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C have to
be dealt with by the Court. It held as under:
“In Dukhtar Jahan v. Mohd. Farooq [(1987) 1 SCC 624 :
1987 SCC (Cri) 237] the Court opined that : (SCC p. 631,
para 16)
16. “… Proceedings under Section 125 [of the Code],
it must be remembered, are of a summary nature
and are intended to enable destitute wives and
children, the latter whether they are legitimate or
illegitimate, to get maintenance in a speedy manner.”
8. A three-Judge Bench in Vimala (K.) v. Veeraswamy
(K.) [(1991) 2 SCC 375 : 1991 SCC (Cri) 442] , while
discussing about the basic purpose under Section 125 of
the Code, opined that : (SCC p. 378, para 3)
3. “Section 125 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure 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.”
1 (2015) 6 SCC 353
9. A two-Judge Bench in Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of
Gujarat [(1996) 4 SCC 479 : 1996 SCC (Cri) 762] , while
adverting to the dominant purpose behind Section 125 of
the Code, ruled that : (SCC p. 489, para 15)
15. “… While dealing with the ambit and
scope of the provision contained in Section
125 of the Code, it has to be borne in mind
that the dominant and primary object is to
give social justice to the woman, child and
infirm parents, etc. and to prevent
destitution and vagrancy by compelling
those who can support those who are
unable to support themselves but have a
moral claim for support. The provisions in
Section 125 provide a speedy remedy to
those women, children and destitute
parents who are in distress. The provisions
in Section 125 are intended to achieve this
special purpose. The dominant purpose
behind the benevolent provisions contained
in Section 125 clearly is that the wife, child
and parents should not be left in a helpless
state of distress, destitution and
10. In Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai [(2008) 2 SCC 316 : (2008) 1
SCC (Civ) 547 : (2008) 1 SCC (Cri) 356] , reiterating the
legal position the Court held : (SCC p. 320, para 6)
6. “… Section 125 CrPC is a measure of
social justice and is specially enacted to
protect women and children and as noted
by this Court in Capt. Ramesh Chander
Kaushal v. Veena Kaushal [(1978) 4 SCC
70 : 1978 SCC (Cri) 508] falls within
constitutional sweep of Article 15(3)
reinforced by Article 39 of the Constitution
of India. 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. 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. The aforesaid position was
highlighted in Savitaben Somabhai
Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat [(2005) 3 SCC
636 : 2005 SCC (Cri) 787] .”
11. Recently in Nagendrappa Natikar v. Neelamma [(2014)
14 SCC 452 : (2015) 1 SCC (Cri) 407 : (2015) 1 SCC (Civ)
346] , it has been stated that it is a piece of social
legislation which provides for a summary and speedy
relief by way of maintenance to a wife who is unable to
maintain herself and her children”.
10) This Court had made the above observations as the Court felt that the
Family Court in the said case had conducted the proceedings without being
alive to the objects and reasons, and the spirit of the provisions under
Section 125 of the Code. Such an impression has also been gathered by this
Court in the case on hand. The Family Court had disregarded the basic canon
of law that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial
support to the wife and to the minor children. The husband is required to
earn money even by physical labour, if he is an able-bodied, and could not
avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds mentioned in
the statute. In Chaturbhuj vs, Sita Bai2
, it has been held that the object of
maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to
prevent vagrancy and destitution of a deserted wife, by providing her food,
clothing, and shelter by a speedy remedy. As settled by this Court, Section
125 Cr.P.C. is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect
women and children. It also falls within the Constitutional sweep of Article
15(3), reinforced by Article 39 of the Constitution of India.
11) The Family Court, in the instant case had not only over-looked and
disregarded the aforesaid settled legal position, but had proceeded with the
2 (2008) 2 SCC 316
proceedings in absolutely pervert manner. The very fact that the right of the
respondent to cross-examine the witnesses of the appellant-original applicant
was closed, as he had failed to appear before the Family Court despite the
issuance of warrants, clearly established that he had no regards for his own
family nor had any regards for the Court or for the law. The allegations made
by the appellant-wife in her evidence before the Court had remained
unchallenged and, therefore, there was no reason for the Family Court to
disbelieve her version, and to believe the oral submissions made by the
learned counsel appearing for the respondent which had no basis. In absence
of any evidence on record adduced by the respondent disputing the evidence
adduced by the appellant, the Family Court could not have passed the order
believing the oral submissions of the learned counsel for the respondent. She
had clearly stated as to how she was harassed and subjected to cruelty by the
respondent, which had constrained her to leave the matrimonial home along
with her children, and as to how the respondent had failed and neglected to
maintain her and her children. She had also proved by producing the
documentary evidence that her father had paid money to the respondent from
time to time to help the respondent for his business. Even if the allegations
of demand of dowry by the respondent were not believed, there was enough
evidence to believe that money was being paid to the respondent by the
father of the appellant-wife, which substantiated her allegation that the
respondent was demanding money from her father and was subjecting her to
harassment. The errant respondent had also gone to the extent of
questioning her chastity alleging that Rachit was not his biological son.
There was nothing on record to substantiate his such baseless allegations.
His application for DNA test was also rejected by the Family Court. Of
course, the Family Court granted the Maintenance petition so far as the
appellant no.2-son was concerned, nonetheless had thoroughly mis-directed
itself by not granting the maintenance to the appellant-wife.
12) Such an erroneous and perverse order of Family Court was unfortunately
confirmed by the High Court by passing a very perfunctory impugned order.
The High Court, without assigning any reasons, passed the impugned order
in a very casual manner. This Court would have remanded the matter back to
the High Court for considering it afresh, however considering the fact that
the matter has been pending before this Court since the last four years, and
remanding it back would further delay the proceedings, this Court deemed it
proper to pass this order.
13) Though it was sought to be submitted by the learned counsel for the
respondent, and by the respondent himself that he has no source of income
as his party business has now been closed, the Court is neither impressed by
nor is ready to accept such submissions. The respondent being an ablebodied, he is obliged to earn by legitimate means and maintain his wife and
the minor child. Having regard to the evidence of the appellant-wife before
the Family Court, and having regard to the other evidence on record, the
Court has no hesitation in holding that though the respondent had sufficient
source of income and was able-bodied, had failed and neglected to maintain
the appellants. Considering the totality of facts and circumstances, we deem
it proper to grant maintenance allowance of Rs.10,000/- per month to the
appellant-wife, over and above the maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/-
granted by the Family Court to the appellant no. 2-son.
14) It is accordingly directed that the respondent shall pay maintenance amount
of Rs. 10,000/- per month to the appellant-wife from the date of filing of her
Maintenance Petition before the Family Court. The entire amount of arrears
shall be deposited by the respondent in the Family Court within eight weeks
from today, after adjusting the amount, if any, already paid or deposited by
15) The appeal stands allowed accordingly.
………………………. J.


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