Incorrect to hold both parents equally responsible for the child’s expenses, Delhi HC
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Incorrect to hold both parents equally responsible for the child’s expenses, Delhi HC

Aditi Singh

Observing that one cannot put value to the time and effort put in by the mother in the upbringing of a child, the Delhi High Court has stated that it would be incorrect to hold that both the parents are equally responsible for the expenses and maintenance of the child.

The observations form part of a judgment passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva in a petition assailing an order passed under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The trial court had held that the petitioner (the wife) was not entitled to any maintenance, while directing the respondent husband to pay maintenance of Rs.10,000 per month towards the expenses of a minor child who was in the former’s custody. The maintenance was payable from the date of the order until the child attains the age of majority.

Pursuant to the dissolution of marriage by way of an ex-parte decree, a petition was filed under Section 125 seeking maintenance at the rate of Rs 50,000 per month for the woman and the minor child.

On the basis of evidence and income tax returns of the petitioner, the trial court concluded that she had an income of approximately Rs 6,35,000 per annum. It further held that since the incomes of the wife and the husband were in the same range, she would not be entitled to any maintenance.

The court, nonetheless, directed the husband to pay maintenance for the expenses of the minor child only from the date of the order. The same was based on the premise that both the parents are responsible for meeting the day-to-day expenses, nourishment, medical, and other expenses of the child.

Before the High Court, the petitioner argued that the trial court had erred in fixing the quantum of maintenance.

She claimed that the husband drew an income of approximately Rs 10 lakh a month and her salary was not sufficient to meet the daily expenditure of herself and the child. She also stated that the monthly expenditure of the minor child was approximately Rs 45,000. It was further submitted that the trial court had erred in awarding maintenance from the date of the order.

The husband, on the other hand, disputed the claims with respect to his income and stated that he earned approximately Rs 35,000- 40,000 per month.

After hearing the parties, the High Court opined that the trial court’s view that both the parents are responsible for meeting the day-to-day expenses, nourishment, medical and other expenses of the child, was erroneous.

Stating that a child for her upbringing does not only require money, the Court observed,

A lot of time and effort goes in upbringing of a child. It would be incorrect to hold that both the parents are equally responsible for the expenses of the child.

A mother who has custody of a child not only spends money on the upbringing of the child, but also spends substantial time and effort in bringing up the child, it said.

One cannot put value to the time and effort put in by the mother in upbringing of the child. No doubt, mother, if she is earning, should also contribute towards the expenses of the child but the expenses cannot be divided equally between the two.”

The Court also recorded that the husband did not correctly disclose that he engaged in several businesses as well.

It was further held that the trial court erred in granting maintenance to the minor child only from the date of the order. Maintenance could be awarded from the date of the order only if there were compelling circumstances. Ideally, the maintenance must be awarded from the date of the application, it stated.

The object of section 125 Cr.P.C is to afford subsistence allowance to the dependents mentioned in the provision, who are not able to maintain themselves, thus the maintenance awarded ideally should be from the date of application. For the court to award maintenance from the date of the order there have to be compelling circumstances for the court to take such a view.

The fact that sufficient time has been spent between the date of application and a final adjudication and an award in favor, does not mean that they had enough funds to maintain themselves. When the trial court comes to conclusion, after trial, that the person claiming maintenance is entitled to an amount of maintenance the assessment in fact relates back to the date of the application.

The Court thus directed the husband to pay Rs Rs. 20,000 per month as maintenance to the minor child from the date of the application, and not the order. The Court, however, agreed with the view that the wife was in a position to maintain herself and as such was not entitled to any maintenance.

The petitioner was represented by Advocates Mayank Wadhwa and Kritika Nagpal.

The respondent was represented by Advocates Madhusmita Bora and Bijoy Kumar Pradhan.

Read the order:

Lopamudra-vs-Surajit-Singh_watermark.pdf
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