The definition of maintenance in the dictionary is "support or subsistence." The term "maintenance" is not specified in any religious community's marital regulations. However, the right to claim maintenance is predicated on the presumption that the claimant lacks the financial resources to sustain herself. The expenses for necessities or requirements for the substance of life are usually covered by maintenance. It is not, however, solely a right to the claimant's survival. This is evident from the provisions of the above-mentioned acts, which provide guidelines to the court by outlining the elements to be considered when determining the amount of maintenance to be paid. To determine the amount of maintenance, the court will consider the husband's and wife's possession of property, the husband's ability to earn, the parties' conduct, and other factors. Before determining the amount of maintenance, the status of the parties and the style of living they have enjoyed during their marriage must be taken into account.
In general, maintenance refers to the amount paid by the husband to his wife after their divorce or the amount paid by a family member of the husband to their son's widow. Basic requirements for maintenance include:
i. Food, shelter, and clothing are only a few examples.
ii. The required considerations and comfort that a logical person would expect.
TYPES OF MAINTENANCE
I. Interim Maintenance- This maintenance is paid from the time the petition is filed to the time the case is dismissed. Its primary goal is to fulfil the petitioner's immediate requirements. It is the sum paid by the person who is financially self-sufficient and on whom the other is financially reliant. This figure includes the cost of the proceeding as well as any additional costs incurred during the course of the case.
II. Permanent Maintenance- It is the amount paid by one party to another following the conclusion of a legal process, i.e., the dissolution of marriage or judicial separation.
MAITENANCE UNDER HINDU LAW
Maintenance relief is an ancillary relief that can be obtained only after filing for the primary relief, such as divorce, return of conjugal rights, or judicial separation. Furthermore, under matrimonial law, if the husband is willing to cohabit with the wife, the wife's claim is usually dismissed. However, even if she is not seeking divorce or any other important matrimonial remedy, a married woman's right to live apart and claim maintenance has been recognised in Hindu law alone. The Hindu Adoptions and Support Act of 1956 allows a Hindu wife to live separately from her husband without losing her entitlement to maintenance.
I. MAINTENANCE OF WIFE- Maintenance relief is a type of ancillary remedy that
can only be obtained after the principal relief, such as divorce, return of conjugal rights, or judicial separation, has been filed. Furthermore, if the husband is prepared to cohabit with the wife, the wife's claim is frequently dismissed under matrimonial law. A married woman's right to live apart and claim maintenance has been recognised in Hindu law alone, even if she is not seeking divorce or any other essential matrimonial remedy. A Hindu wife can live apart from her husband without losing her right to maintenance under the Hindu Adoptions and Support Act of 1956.
1. GROUNDS FOR MAINTENANCE- Only upon proving that at least one of the grounds mentioned under the Act, exists in the favour of the wife, maintenance is granted. These grounds are as follows: -
a. The husband has deserted her or has wilfully neglected her;
b. The husband has treated her with cruelty;
c. The husband is suffering from virulent form of leprosy/venereal diseases or any other infectious disease;
d. The husband has any other wife living;
e. The husband keeps the concubine in the same house as the wife resides or he habitually resides with the concubine elsewhere;
f. The husband has ceased to a Hindu by conversion to any other religion;
g. Any other cause justifying her separate living
2. QUANTUM OF MAINTENANCE- When deciding the amount of maintenance to be paid, the means and capacity of the person against whom the award is to be made should be taken into account. In fact, in the case of the husband, it is not only his current earning capacity that must be evaluated, but also his potential earning capacity, i.e., there is a presumption that every able-bodied person has the capacity to earn and maintain his wife. The husband's income is a crucial issue that the court will take into account when determining the amount of maintenance to be paid.
II. MAINTENANCE OF CHILDREN- Section 20 of the HAM ACT makes it mandatory for both parents – mother and father – to support their offspring, both legal and illegitimate. This is a unique aspect of Hindu law, in which both parents share equal responsibility for the upkeep of the children. Children are entitled to maintenance during their minority, according to
Section 20 (2) of the HAM Act. The daughter's claim to support is extended till she marries. Her parents are obligated to cover her wedding costs. However, if a minor married daughter is unable to support herself after marriage, she may file a claim for maintenance under S.125 CrPC. When a claim is made under sections 24 and 25 of the HAM Act, the children are also entitled to maintenance if the claimant is responsible for their upkeep, i.e., the claimant's right to maintenance includes the children's entitlement to maintenance. Section 26 of the HM Act further states that the court can issue interim orders and establish provisions for the custody, maintenance, and education of minor children in any matter brought under the Act.
III. MAINTENANCE OF PARENTS- S. 20 of the HAM ACT also establishes a
maintenance responsibility for elderly and infirm parents who are unable to support themselves from their own earnings and property. The HAM ACT is the first law in India to make it mandatory for children to support their parents. The need to maintain does not just apply to boys; it also applies to daughters. Both the mother and the father have an equal right to maintenance under the HAM Act. The term parent is also used in this section's explanation to include stepmother.
CASES DISCUSSING MAINTENANCE AS AN ISSUE
1. Ram Chandra Giri v. Ram Suraj Giri- A petition was filed under section 125 of the CrPC when the father of a minor boy failed to furnish maintenance. The father said that the boy had a good physical condition and was healthy, therefore he could fend for himself. The Court dismissed the argument, stating that the concept of potential earning ability cannot be applied to underage children since it would contradict the objective of the law.
2. Mangala Bhivaji Lad Vs Dhondiba Rambhau Aher AIR 2010 Bom.122- Second wife not entitled maintenance- In the absence of statutory provisions, the Court may exercise inherent powers. And not to get around a legal requirement. Granting maintenance to the second wife in the exercise of inherent powers, notwithstanding the fact that she was not entitled to it under the Hindu Marriage Act (1955) and the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956), is not permissible.
3. Chandaram Bunkar Vs Smt. Ramadevi AIR 2010 Raj 176- Quantum of maintenance- Maintenance may be awarded up to Rs.1/5th of the spouse's salary. Husband was receiving a monthly salary of around Rs.35,000/-, with a monthly maintenance payment of Rs.3,000/-. Following his retirement, he received a monthly provisional pension of Rs.15,115/-. It is not improper for a Family Court order to retain an amount of Rs.3,000/- as maintenance for the wife even after the husband's retirement.
4. Ambaram v. Reshambai- Although many women who come into marriage without knowing about their husband's second marriage deserve sympathy, the court decided that maintenance under Section 25 should be awarded and that any appeal should be taken to the legislature.
Women's rights have been restored as a result of judicial decisions and other actions, but they will only be fruitful if underlying beliefs are changed. Women should emancipate themselves educationally, economically, and socially for their own well-being, and only then will they be able to understand their rights and worth, and only then will the social upliftment of the entire community be possible. We must never forget that his mother is his child's first instructor and mentor. No culture has ever lived in peace until their women are at peace, according to history.
Despite the fact that maintenance should be gender neutral and applied to both husband and wife for the better good of society, many women are denied the right to claim their maintenance entitlements. To comply with the Law of the Land and, eventually, to make it a big success, proper implementation is required.
This article is written by Mohd Saqib Husain of Lloyd Law College.