Married Daughter: Her Right of Maintenance

By

Y.Srinivasa Rao, Principal Senior Civil Judge, Tirupati

A Hindu father is bound to maintain his unmarried daughters and on the death of the father, they are entitled to be maintained out of his estate. The position of the married daughter is somewhat different. It is acknowledged that if the daughter is unable to obtain maintenance from her husband, or, after his death, from his family, her father, if he has got separate property of his own, is under a moral, though not a legal, obligation to maintain her. It was further observed that In that way, the father may not have had a legal obligation to maintain her but all the same there existed a moral obligation. And if in acknowledgement of that moral obligation the father had transferred property to his daughter then it is an obligation well-fructified. In other words a moral obligation even though not enforceable under the law, would by acknowledgement, bring it to the level of a legal obligation, for it would be perfectly legitimate for the father to treat himself obliged out of love and affection to maintain his destitute daughter, even impinging to a reasonable extent on his ancestral property. As per Hindu Law that the Karta of the family has in some circumstances, power to alienate ancestral property to meet an obligation of the kind. It is an obligation on the part of the father to maintain his destitute widowed daughter. In Laxmappa and others versus Smt. Balawa Kom Tirkappa Chavdi (1996), the Supreme Court held as follows:

The law on the subject was taken stock of by the High Court by quoting para 546 of Mulla’s book on Hindu Law, 15th Edition, which provides that a Hindu father is bound to maintain his unmarried daughters and on the death of the father, they are entitled to be maintained out of his estate. The position of the married daughter is somewhat different. It is acknowledged that if the daughter is unable to obtain maintenance from her husband, or after his death. from his finaly, her father, if hi has got separate property of his own, is under a morals though not a legal, obligation to maintain her. The High Court has concluded that it was clear that the father was under an obligation to maintain the plaintiff-respondent. Seemingly, the High Court in doing so was conscious of the declaration made in the gift deed in which she was described as a destitute and unable to maintain herself. In that way, the father may not have had a legal obligation to maintain her but all the same there existed a moral obligation. And if in acknowledgment of that moral obligation the father had transferred property to his daughter then it is an obligation well-fructified. In other words a moral obligation even though not enforceable under the law, would by acknowledgment, bring it to the level of a legal obligation, for it would be perfectly legitimate for the father to treat himself obliged out of love and affection to maintain his destitute daughter, even impinging to a reasonable extent on his ancestral propriety. It is duly acknowledged in Hindu Law that the Karta of the family has in some circumstances, power to alienate ancestral property to meet an obligation of the kind. We would rather construe the said paragraph more liberally in the modern context having regard to the state of law which has been brought about in the succeeding years. Therefore, in our view, the High Court was within its right to come to the conclusion that there was an obligation on the part of the father to maintain his destitute widowed daughter.
In Badshah Versus Urmila Badshah Godse and another: (2014) 1 SCC 188 and it is stated that Section 125 of Cr.P.C. is a benevolent provision considering the long relationship of the parties as has been established by the witness, which was clear before the Court to hold that the presumption of valid marriage exists and under the evidence available the applicant should have been held to legally wedded wife and maintenance should have been provided.

In this case, it was held that the principles of Hindu Personal Law have developed in an evolutionary way out of concern for all those subject to it so as to make fair provision against destitution. The manifest purpose is to achieve the social objectives for making bare minimum provision to sustain the members of relatively smaller social groups. Its foundation spring is humanistic. In its operation field all though, it lays down the permissible categories under its benefaction, which are so entitled either because of the tenets supported by clear public policy or because of the need to subserve the social and individual morality measured for maintenance.

In in Capt.Ramesh Chander Kaushal vs. Veena Kaushal , (1978) 4 SCC 70, it was held: “The brooding presence of the Constitutional empathy for the weaker sections like women and children must inform interpretation if it has to have social relevance. So viewed, it is possible to be selective in picking out that interpretation out of two alternatives which advances the cause – the cause of the derelicts.”

.  In Rameshchandra Daga v. Rameshwari Daga, AIR 2005 SC 422, the right of another woman in a similar situation was upheld. Here the Court had accepted that Hindu marriages have continued to be bigamous despite the enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955. The Court had commented that though such marriages are illegal as per the provisions of the Act, they are not ‘immoral’ and hence a financially dependent woman cannot be denied maintenance on this ground.

Family Law

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