'Review maintenance provisions'

'Review maintenance provisions'

Definition of wife needs to be ascertained to ensure justice: Dr Malimath

“The definition of ‘wife’ needs to be ascertained while ensuring justice to abandoned women. It is the liability of the husbands or fathers to maintain wives or children. The expession ‘having sufficient means’ in these provisions should be deleted,” he opined while delivering keynote address at a seminar organised by National Law of India University (NLSIU), here on Sunday.

The respondents (husbands or fathers) need not have the permission to seek leave in order to defend themselves. A provision to provide timely maintenance to wives and children has to be incorporated in the sections failing which the respondents will have to pay an interest of 18 to 20 percent along with the original maintenance. This provision would promote payment of efficient and regular maintenance, he suggested.

Justice Malimath remarked that the provision to plead adultery is the potential defence available to the respondents to deny the payment of maintenance to neglected wives and children. He strongly recommended that provision of adultery be scrapped to provide justice to women.

“A provision has to be incorporated in these sections wherein the respondents will have to file affidavit giving details of movable, immovable assets, employment and employer’s details and salary. Based on the affidavit, the applicants (wives, children and parents) will be able get appropriate maintenance,” Justice Malimath opined.
Governor H R Bhardwaj, who inaugurated the seminar said that neglected women should be protected by special laws guaranteeing maintenance from the spouse. There is a need for a comprehensive law which will make women more secure and financially stable, and similarly a provision will have to be made for senior citizens, making children responsible for the maintenance of their aged parents.”

Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde observed that Sec 125,126 and 127 provides a swift and easy remedy for destitute women and children, while the purpose of the sections was to prevent women and children from engaging in criminal or anti-social activities.

Contradicting Justice Malimath’s suggestions on  Sec 125, Justice Hegde said, “Character assasination by husband or respondent in the form of adultery cannot be abolished in cases where the wife or applicant is not chaste. Hence retorting to extreme views can lead to extreme decisions. All aspects will have to be taken into consideration and every possible reason will have to be weighed before arriving at a decision,” he postulated.

Proposed amendment to Sec 125 CrPC
 ‘Wife’ includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from her husband and has not remarried, or has lived with respondent (husband) in a relationship in the nature of marriage, or is a wife under a irregular or voidable marriage.