Read Judgment: Urvashi Aggarwal & Ors. vs. Inderpaul Aggarwal

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, October 18, 2021: The Delhi High Court has opined that the context of Section 125 of the CrPC is to ensure that the wife and the children of the husband are not left in a state of destitution after the divorce, and the husband must also carry the financial burden of making certain that his children are capable of attaining a position in society wherein they can sufficiently maintain themselves.

The Bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that mother cannot be burdened with the entire expenditure on the education of her son just because he has completed 18 years of age, and the father cannot be absolved of all responsibilities to meet the education expenses of his son because the son may have attained the age of majority, but may not be financially independent and could be incapable of sustaining himself. 

The observation came pursuant to an application filed u/s 482 CrPC for seeking the review of the order of this Court dated June 14, 2021 in a Criminal Revision Petition wherein this Court had granted a sum of Rs. 15,000 per month as interim maintenance to the revisionist/ first petitioner till the second petitioner completed his graduation or started earning, whichever was earlier. 

After considering the arguments, the Delhi High Court found that the challenge to the maintenance granted for the education of the major son had been mounted by the respondent on the ground that it is contrary to the relevant statutory provision, and that it diametrically opposed the interpretation of Section 125 of CrPC. 

This Court cannot shut its eyes to the reality that simply attaining majority does not translate into the understanding that the major son is earning sufficiently. At the age of 18, it can be safely assumed that the son is either graduating from 12th standard or is in his first year of college. More often than not, it does not place him in a position wherein he can earn to sustain or maintain himself. It further places the entire burden on the mother to bear the expenses of educating the children without any contribution from the father, and this Court cannot countenance such a situation”, observed the Court. 

The High Court went on to state that social welfare legislations cannot and should not be interpreted in a narrow manner because doing so will defeat the purpose for the enactment of such legislation and will become counterproductive. 

Justice Prasad observed that the interim maintenance was not allowed to the son who attained majority, but to the mother till the minor son completed his graduation or started earning, whichever was earlier. 

Accordingly, while dismissing the application, the Court concluded that a father is bound to compensate the wife who, after spending on children, may hardly be left with anything to maintain herself, after her divorce. 

In households wherein the women are working and are earning sufficiently to maintain themselves, it does not automatically mean that the husband is absolved of his responsibility to provide sustenance for his children, added the High Court.

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