The Bombay High Court has observed that As per Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, after husband’s death, a woman has every right to claim maintenance from the estate inherited by her father-in-law in a dismissed a writ petition filed by a man who challenged an order passed by Family Court, Bandra granting interim maintenance to his widowed daughter-in-law and grandson.
The petitioner had two sons. Late Bhupinder, who was married to the respondent no. 1 on December 12, 2004, died on May 21, 2015. They have a son together. Both of the respondent widow’s parents passed away. It is her case that she has no independent source of earning and she and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the petitioner father-in-law.
Thus, she filed proceedings under Sections 19 and 22 with seeking grant of maintenance of Rs.1.5 lakh per month for herself and Rs.50,000 for her son, before the Family Court.
The claim was resisted by the petitioner father-in-law who alleged that he was paying maintenance to the respondents and has provided accommodation. He also claimed an expenses of Rs.90,000 is incurred by him so as to meet day-to-day requirements, educational expenses etc.
The Family Court in an order dated January 28, 2020, granted maintenance of Rs.40,000 per month to respondent no.1 and Rs.30,000 per month to respondent no.2 son.
Petitioner’s counsel Advocate Bipin Joshi referred to Section 19 of the Act and submitted that the maintenance ought to have been claimed by the respondent no.1 only after demonstrating that she was unable to maintain herself from her own earnings or from the estate of her parents. Moreover, presuming that the respondents are entitled , still fact remains that exorbitant is awarded, as the Court below have failed to consider the liability of the petitioner to maintain himself, who was a cancer patient, his aged wife, his other son and his family, Adv Joshi argued.
The Court noted After hearing all submissions –
“At the outset, it is required to be submitted that the plain reading of Section 19 of the Act contemplates that the respondents have every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law i.e. the present petitioner. That proviso to Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 contemplates that the respondent has to demonstrate that she is unable to maintain herself. It is in this eventuality she can claim maintenance from the estate of her husband, still fact remains that the said burden can be discharged by respondent no.1 at an appropriate stage. The object with which the provision is made in the statute book for grant of interim maintenance cannot be ignored.”
Moreover, Court observed-
“Apart from above, the Court cannot be oblivious to the fact that the income of the petitioner for the assessment year 2018-2019 as was reflected in the income-tax return was Rs,74,87,007. That being so, it cannot be at this stage presumed that the maintenance is disproportionate to the legal source of income of the petitioner. Rather the maintenance awarded to the respondent no.1 to the tune of Rs.40,000 and to respondent no.2, grandson of Rs.30,000 appears to be justified, considering the income drawn by the Petitioner as reflected in the hereinabove.”
Justice Sambre noted that the Family Court has relied on the statement made in the written statement by the present petitioner that the income per month from the HUF property is Rs.1,28,000.
Thus the petition was dismissed.