MP High Court Rules: Illegitimate Child Entitled to Maintenance Under Sec 125 CrPC

LI Network

Published on: 25 September 2023 at 00:20 IST

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Indore issued a significant judgment addressing a complex maintenance claim arising from a marriage with unconventional circumstances.

The court’s ruling, delivered by Justice Prem Narayan Singh, tackled critical questions surrounding the legal status of marriage and entitlement to maintenance according to Indian law.

The Court, while referencing Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), made the following determination:

It is evident from the aforementioned provision that an illegitimate child is entitled to receive maintenance, but an illegitimate wife is not entitled to maintenance. The legislative intent is clear that maintenance can only be granted in favor of a legally wedded wife.

The case centered on a petitioner who filed a criminal revision under Section 19(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This revision challenged an order issued by the Family Court in Indore, which had awarded monthly maintenance to the respondent.

The court’s order, dated January 7, 2020, had granted the respondent a substantial amount as maintenance, effective from the date of the order.

The background of the case was rather unusual. The petitioner and the respondent had entered into a marriage in 2013. However, before this union, the respondent had been previously married to another individual. Notably, the first marriage was declared null and void because the first husband was already married. During this previous marriage, the respondent had a son.

The petitioner argued that the respondent’s first marriage was legally invalid since it had not been properly dissolved, and therefore, she could not be considered a legally wedded wife. Consequently, he contended that the respondent should not be entitled to maintenance as she did not meet the criteria of a legally wedded wife.

Justice Singh, in his ruling, referenced relevant legal precedents and asserted, “The wife should be a ‘legally wedded wife’ to claim maintenance.”

The judge further emphasized that maintenance under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C. could only be granted to a legally wedded wife. Since the respondent had not provided evidence of her divorce from her first husband, her claim for maintenance was deemed unsustainable.

The court allowed the petitioner’s criminal revision and set aside the maintenance order issued in favor of the respondent.

Additionally, the court noted that the respondent could explore alternative legal remedies, such as seeking compensation under Section 22 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

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