Man not freed of duty when kids become majors: Delhi HC

Man not absolved of responsibility to provide sustenance when children become majors: Delhi HC

The court said Section 125 CrPC is a tool for social justice enacted to ensure that women and children are protected from a life of potential vagrancy

Representative image. Credit: iStock photo

The Delhi High Court has said a man cannot get automatically absolved of his responsibility to provide sustenance to his children just because his wife has been earning sufficiently or the children have attained the age of majority.

Dealing with a matter related to maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad said a father is bound to compensate the wife who, after spending on children, may hardly be left with anything to maintain herself.

"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 said.

"The 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 he may have attained the age of majority, but may not be financially independent and could be incapable of sustaining himself," the bench added.

The man here filed a revision petition against the court's order to pay Rs 15,000 interim maintenance to his son till he completes his graduation or starts earning.

He claimed his wife is employed with the central government and earns more than Rs 70,000 as monthly salary, besides she also claims education expenses for the children.

Dismissing his plea, the court said, a father has an equal duty to provide for his children and there cannot be a situation wherein it is only the mother who has to bear the burden of expenses for raising and educating the children.

"It is true that in majority of households, women are unable to work due to socio-cultural as well as structural impediments, and, thus, cannot financially support themselves. However, 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," the bench said.

The court said it cannot countenance a situation which places the entire burden on the mother to bear the expenses of educating the children without any contribution from the father as simply attaining majority does not mean son would start earning sufficiently.

The court said Section 125 CrPC is a tool for social justice enacted to ensure that women and children are protected from a life of potential vagrancy and destitution.

The Supreme Court has consistently held that the conceptualisation of Section 125 was meant to ameliorate the financial suffering of a woman who had left her matrimonial home; it is a means to secure the woman’s sustenance, along with that of the children, if any, it pointed out.

"The statutory provision entails that if the husband has sufficient means, he is obligated to maintain his wife and children, and not shirk away from his moral and familial responsibilities," the court said.

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