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Kerala High Court Rules Inclusion of Reimbursed Educational Expenses in Maintenance Allowance

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Published on: 11 August 2023 at 11:20 IST

The Kerala High Court, led by Justice V.G. Arun, has issued a ruling that holds substantial implications for cases involving maintenance allowances as stipulated in Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C).

The case at the center of this ruling emerged from the Family Court in Mavelikkara, involving Abdul Mujeeb, his wife Suja, and their children. Seeking maintenance allowance from Abdul Mujeeb as per the provisions of Section 125 of Cr.P.C, Suja and her children brought the matter before the Family Court. Despite being duly served notice, Abdul Mujeeb failed to appear in court, resulting in an ex parte judgment favoring the family.

The Family Court, on August 30, 2016, ruled in favor of the claimants, instructing Abdul Mujeeb to provide Rs. 4,000 to each of them, effective from April 16, 2016.

Subsequently, disagreements arose regarding the payment of the maintenance allowance. The claimants petitioned for arrears amounting to Rs. 1,20,000 for the period spanning January 30, 2019, to October 30, 2019. Abdul Mujeeb countered this claim, asserting that he had already disbursed a higher sum of Rs. 2,68,607.

The Family Court, after thorough examination, rejected the claim based on his counterarguments.

Despite this setback, the claimants persisted by filing a review petition, requesting the reevaluation of the dismissal order. In this review, they presented evidence illustrating that the payments made by Abdul Mujeeb were designated for the educational expenses of the children and not intended as part of the maintenance allowance.

They argued that the Family Court had mistakenly categorized these payments as maintenance disbursements.

The Family Court, upon reanalyzing the presented evidence and arguments, acknowledged its previous misinterpretation. It recognized that the payments were indeed directed towards education-related expenditures, rather than maintenance payments.

In support of its conclusion, the Court referred to a prior case, Sanjeev Kapoor v. Chandana Kapoor and Others (2020, where it was established that a court issuing a final order under Section 125 Cr.P.C. remains empowered to review its decision, thus rendering the embargo under Section 362 inapplicable.

Justice V.G. Arun, delivering the verdict on August 7, 2023, underscored the significance of ensuring adequate maintenance for neglected family members.

The Court emphasized that the intent of Chapter IX of the Cr.P.C, which addresses maintenance, is to prevent family members from falling into destitution and vagrancy.

Justice Arun clarified, “The limitations outlined in Section 362 do not extend to any of the provisions within this Chapter, including Section 128,” effectively dismissing arguments against the review of orders under Section 128.