Major unwed daughter with no abnormality cannot claim maintenance: SC

Published: 16 September, 2020 08:53 IST | IANS | New Delhi

The Additional Sessions Judge held that the children, who had attained majority, are entitled to maintenance, if by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, they are unable to maintain themselves.

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that a daughter, who is unmarried, is not entitled to claim maintenance from her father after becoming a major, if she is not suffering mental or physical abnormality.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah said: "Hindu Law always recognised the liability of father to maintain an unmarried daughter. Muslim Law also recognises the obligation of father to maintain his daughters until they are married."

The bench noted that Section 20(3) of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 cast a statutory obligation of a Hindu to maintain his or her daughter, who is unmarried and is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property.

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"The obligation, which is cast on the father to maintain his unmarried daughter, can be enforced by her against her father, if she is unable to maintain herself, by enforcing her right under Section 20," it said.

The petitioner had filed an appeal, challenging the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court passed August 16, 2018, where the court dismissed the application under Section 482 Cr.P.C. praying for setting aside the order of the Judicial Magistrate First Class, as well as the order dated February 17, 2014 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, which held she is entitled to maintenance till April 2005 when she attains majority.

The Additional Sessions Judge held that as per provision of Section 125 Cr.P.C., the children, who had attained majority, are entitled to maintenance, if by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury, they are unable to maintain themselves.

The petitioner filed an appeal in the apex court contending that as per Section 20, a person has an obligation to maintain his daughter, till she is married. The petitioner, when she was a minor, had filed an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. before a judicial magistrate in Rewari, which was disposed, limiting the claim of the appellant to claim maintenance till she attains majority. This order was upheld by the High Court also.

The petitioner claimed, even if she does not suffer from any physical or mental abnormality or injury, by virtue of Section 20, she is entitled to maintenance till she is unmarried. The apex court, dismissing the appeal, gave liberty to the petitioner to take recourse to Section 20(3) of the Act, for claiming any maintenance against her father.

The application was filed by the mother of the appellant in 2002 claiming maintenance on her behalf as well as on behalf of her two sons and the appellant, who was a minor at that time.

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