Maintenance to be awarded from the date of filing Application: SC

Supreme Court: Suspicion, However Strong, cannot take the place of Proof

Supreme Court bench of Justice Indu Malhotra & Justice R Subhash Reddy observed in the case Rajnesh V. Neha that right to claim maintenance under all enactments must be awarded from back date i.e. from date of filing the application. All enactments includes maintenance u/s-125 of Cr.P.C. In the said case court gave guidelines on maintenance in matrimonial matters.

Court observed that different views have been taken into account by various Family courts, like: –

  1. From the date of filing the application
  2. From the date of order
  3. From the date of serving summons on respondent

It also noted that section-125(2) of Cr.P.C. says that magistrate has power to decide the effect of maintenance either from back date (date of filing of application or from date of order) and even there is no such fixed provision under Hindu Marriage Act or Domestic Violence Act.

According to court the idea to grant maintenance to wife from back date is to help her to overcome the financial crisis she would have faced during the trial and after separation from husband.

Court referred to many other judgments under other Acts and said that “Even though a judicial discretion is conferred upon the Court to grant maintenance either from the date of application or from the date of the order in S. 125(2) Cr.P.C. it would be appropriate to grant maintenance from the date of application in all cases, including Section 125 Cr.P.C. In the practical working of the provisions relating to maintenance, we find that there is significant delay in disposal of the applications for interim maintenance for years on end. It would therefore be in the interests of justice and fair play that maintenance is awarded from the date of the application.”

Payment of maintenance is the most crucial thing to be done after an order is made, justice on this the court added that

‘If maintenance is not paid in a timely manner, it defeats the very object of the social welfare legislation. Execution petitions usually remain pending for months, if not years, which completely nullifies the object of the law.”

For enforcement, the court said that a decree of maintenance shall be enforced in the same manner as a decree of any civil suit, through the provisions of money decree, civil detention. Etc.

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