maintainence of wife and widow daughter in law under hindu law

INTRODUCTION

In the purview of my project topic I will talk about Section 18 and 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Let us discuss what they state-

Section 18 – Maintenance of wife –

(1) A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, is entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime, subject to the requirements of this section.

(2) A Hindu wife has the right to live apart from her husband without losing her maintenance claim—

(a) if he has abandoned her without reasonable cause and without her consent or against her will, or if he has willfully neglected her;

(b) if he has treated her with such cruelty that she has a reasonable fear that living with her husband will be harmful or injurious;

(c) if he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;

(d) if he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;

(e) if he has any other wife living;

f) if he keeps a concubine in the same house as his wife or routinely dwells with a concubine elsewhere;

g) if he has converted to another faith and is no longer a Hindu;

h) if there is any other reason to live separately.


(3) A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.

(i) Because the wife had been living alone and raising all of the children without the husband’s help and there was a clear case of desertion, the wife was entitled to separate housing and maintenance.

(ii) The thoughtless action of the husband of evicting the wife from the house where she had been living in collusion with the purchasers of the house and the police inflicted a deep wound on her amounting to cruelty, the wife was entitled to live separately and claim maintenance

(iii) A wife’s claim for maintenance can be upheld under clause (g) even if the basis is partially covered by one or more of the provisions, i.e. clauses (a) to (f) of section 18(2). The wife cannot be refused relief simply because she fails to substantiate the precise grounds she asserts.

Section 19- Maintenance of widowed daughter-in-law.

(1) A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained after the death of her husband by her father-in-law:

PROVIDED and to the extent that she is unable to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property or, where she has no property of her own, is unable to obtain maintenance-

(a) from her husband’s or father’s or mother’s estates, or

(b) from her son or daughter, if any, or their estates.

(2) Any obligation under sub-section (1) shall not be enforceable if the father-in law has not the means to do so from any coparcenary property in his possession out of which the daughter-in-law has not obtained any share, and any such obligation shall cease on the re-marriage of the daughter-in-law.

OBJECTIVES OF THE SECTION 18 OF HINDU ADOPTION AND MAINTENANCE ACT, 1956 ACT, 1956

1) Examine the Indian judiciary’s and legal luminaries’ responses to the Hindu wife’s right to maintenance under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956.

2) To compare the status of: I the Hindu wife’s right to maintenance under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956; and ii) the Hindu wife’s right to maintenance under Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

ii) Widowed daughter-in-right law’s to maintenance under Section 19 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956

iii) Right to Maintenance of a Hindu wife, whose husband is unable to provide maintenance to her under Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

3) To research the right to maintenance in Hindu law.

4) To propose remedies to ease the miseries of a woman whose husband is unable to give her with support under India’s Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

SECTION 18 OF HINDU ADOPTION AND MAINTENANCE ACT, 1956

 A Detailed Study about the Right of Hindu Wife to Maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act

“Women make up half of the Indian population as well. Discrimination against women has always existed, and women have suffered and continue to suffer discrimination in silence. Their nobility and fortitude are self-sacrifice and self-denial, yet they have been subjected to all injustices, indignities, and discrimination.” –Justice K.Rama Swamy in Madhu Kishwar vs. State of Bihar.

Marriage is the bedrock of every society. It’s a must-have for family harmony and stability. As a result, legislatures all over the world have given husband and wife certain rights and set certain obligations on them as key members of any family. Marriage was thought to be decided by God in ancient times, and divinity was associated with it. It is seen as a holy social institution. Marriage is a holy union for the execution of religious duties, according to Hindu Law. Marriage is a Sanskar, or sacrament, not a contract. According to the Sanskar, once a virgin is married, she must maintain her chastity as much after as before her husband’s death.” Wife, according to the Mahabharata, is a source of not just Dharma, Artha, and Kama, but also Moksha. Wife is supposed to be the soul of her husband in the Ramayana. She is Grihini [the House Lady], Sachiva [wise Counselor], and Sakhi [her husband’s buddy]. Griha Laxmi, Ardhangini (half of him), and Samarajyi are her names. Hindu marriage safeguards a woman’s legal rights, such as restitution of conjugal rights in the event of desertion, validity of children, redress in the event of cruelty, adultery, impotency, maintenance and alimony claims, and so on and a maintenance order for the woman who is unable to support herself. Husband and wife are the two wheels of a family chariot, therefore it’s only normal that they get into a state of disagreement over time. Despite the passage of numerous laws, India’s male-dominated society does not enable even a sliver of change in a married woman’s status. As a result, the Indian home has become the safest place for men to perpetrate violence against helpless women. The Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955, the Hindu Succession Act (HAS), 1956, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956, and the Hindu Guardian and Wards Act (HGWA), 1956 were all enacted to address this long-standing problem. Through the policies and laws described above, the state attempts to empower married women. The Constitutionally mandated concept of equality, however, remains a mere paper blessing, far removed from the touch of reality, due to insufficient execution. So much so that under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956, a Hindu wife is not entitled to maintenance from her husband’s family. The State has institutionalised patriarchal norms and ideals, resulting in this dichotomy. This results in the construction of a negative image of women, which has long been a painful reality in Indian society. Under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, the Researcher strives to adumbrate and justify the rights of a Hindu married woman whose husband is unable to give her with maintenance.

Right To Maintenance Of Hindu Women Under Hindu Adoption And Maintenance Act

The concept of an undivided family gives birth to the right of maintenance. The head of such a family owes it to its members, their wives, and their children to provide for them. “The ageing mother and father, the chaste wife, and an infant child must be maintained even though a hundred faults are done,” Manu declares.

Maintenance is defined as the right to obtain reasonable necessities. Maintenance is defined in Section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. This section explains what maintenance entails.

(i) in all situations, provision for food, clothes, residence, education, and medical attendance and treatment;

(ii) in the event of an unmarried daughter, reasonable expenses incurred as a result of her marriage.

(iii) A person who has not reached the age of eighteen is referred to as a “minor.”

Nature And Extent Of The Right Of Maintenance Under The Hindu Adoptions And Maintenance Act, 1956:

(A) Wife Upkeep: Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 addresses the wife’s maintenance and separate residence.

(1) A Hindu wife, whether married before or after the effective date of this Act, is entitled to be supported by her husband for the rest of her life.

(2) A Hindu wife has the right to live apart from her husband without jeopardising her maintenance claim.

(a) If he has been found guilty of desertion.

(b) if she has been treated with such cruelty that she has a realistic fear of damage or injury as a result of living with her husband.

(c) If he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy.

(c) If he has another live wife.

(e) If he keeps a concubine in the same residence as his wife or lives with a concubine elsewhere on a regular basis.

(f) If he converted to another faith after ceasing to be a Hindu.

(g) If there is any other reason for them to live apart.

(3) A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.

Purusottam Mahakud v. Smt. Annapurna Mahakud: The Supreme Court held in Purusottam Mahakud v. Smt. Annapurna Mahakud that the right to claim interim maintenance in a suit is a substantive right under section 18 of the Act. Because no specific form is required to enforce the right, a civil court can give interim maintenance in the exercise of its inherent power.

Right Of Separate Residence:

  • Because the wife had been living alone and raising all of the children without the husband’s help and there was a clear case of desertion, the wife was entitled to separate housing and maintenance.
  • Because the husband’s inconsiderate action of evicting the wife from the house where she had been residing in conjunction with the house’s purchasers and the police inflicted a profound hurt on her that amounted to cruelty, the woman was entitled to live separately and seek support.
  • A wife’s claim for maintenance can be upheld under clause (g) even if the basis is partially covered by one or more of the provisions, i.e. clauses (a) to (f) of section 18(2). The wife cannot be refused relief simply because she fails to substantiate the precise grounds she asserts.

 

SECTION 19 – MAINTENANCE OF WIDOWED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

After the death of her husband, a Hindu wife, whether married before or after the start of this Act, is entitled to be maintained by her father-in-law: Providing and to the degree that she is unable to support herself from her own wages or other property, or is unable to get maintenance if she does not have any.

(a) from her husband’s or father’s or mother’s estate;

(b) from her son or daughter, if any, or their estate.

2) Any obligation imposed under subsection (1) will not be enforced if the father-in-law lacks the financial means to do so from any coparcener property in his possession in which the daughter-in-law has not received a portion, and any such obligation will terminate upon the daughter-in-law. In Raj Kishore Mishra v. Smt. Meena Mishra, the court decided that a father-in-responsibility law’s to support his daughter-in-law from any coparcenary property in his possession in which the daughter-in-law has not received any portion is unenforceable.  The purpose of this Section is to clarify that a widowed daughter-in-law can only claim maintenance from her father-in-law if she is unable to support herself from her own assets or the estate of her husband, father, mother, son, or daughter. It is also stated that the father-in-law is not obligated to support his daughter-in-law unless there is any ancestral property in his possession from which the daughter-in-law has not derived any benefit.

Status of Wife Of A Joint Hindu Family

A joint Hindu family is made up of all people who are lineally derived from the same ancestor, as well as their wives and unmarried daughters. The idea of joint-ness of a Hindu family was recognised as a typical condition of a Hindu family in traditional Hindu law. It should be highlighted, however, that this idea of joint-ness of a Hindu family is distinct from any notion of joint-ness of property ownership. According to Mulla’s Principles of Hindu Law, “the possession of joint estate is not a necessary need to establish a joint family; hence a family may be joint even if it owns no property.” This concept has been clarified in authoritative judgements as follows: “Hindus are born into a joint family, and joint family property is just an appendage of the joint family.” However, where there is joint estate and subsequently the members become separate in estate, the family ceases to be a joint Hindu family.

Status Of Wife of A Coparcener

In 2005, the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) of 1956 was changed [Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 (39 of 2005)] to give daughters coparcener property rights. Only male members had coparcener privileges under the previous law (HAS, 1956). This has changed the essential structure of Mitakshara coparcener, and a daughter can now acquire a stake in the coparcener property, demand a partition, and dispose of it by testamentary disposition, among other things  The 1956 HAS granted limited rights to members of a joint family who married into it, however the 2005 Amendment grants coparcener rights to those individuals who are born into the family and so have coparcener property rights by birth. Those who marry and form a joint family have some rights that are restricted.

(i) to pay for maintenance with its own money

ii) the right to live in the family home, and so on. In view of the foregoing, it can be concluded that wives married into a joint Hindu family are forbidden any other coparcener property rights that are available to the family’s daughters. The share of a daughter, on the other hand, would reduce the share of a wife married to a coparcener.

The Indian Judiciary’s and Legal Elites’ Reactions To The ‘Right To Maintain A Hindu Wife’ In Hindu law, this is known as classical law.

It is obvious from the preceding that, while Indian Hindu women have increased their rights over time, the rights accessible to them do not match the rights required. The Indian judiciary is seen to be ambivalent in this setting. This conclusion is supported by the Supreme Court’s decision in Masilamani Mudliar vs. idol of Sri Swaminathswami Thirukoli, which found that personal laws are null and void to the extent that they violate Fundamental Rights. In Avtar Singh vs. Jasbir Singh, a Bench of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, led by Honble Justice Paramjeet Singh, recognised a gap in the HAMA, 1956, relating to property and maintenance rights applicable to Hindu women. In the matter at hand, the Plaintiff was the wife of a mentally ill man who sought from her father-in-law a 1/4 part in the family’s land as maintenance for herself, her husband, and her minor boys. Her father-in-law had given her the aforementioned share as part of a family settlement before the Gram Panchayat, but her father-in-law and brother-in-law afterwards forcibly took the land away from her. Because the father-in-law freely gave the land to his mentally ill son and his family as part of a family settlement, The case was determined on the basis of whether the aforementioned family settlement before the Gram Panchayat was required to be registered in order to effect the validity, rather than on the substantive matter of law governing the legal obligations of the father in law in such cases.

However, before parting with the case, the Learned Judge made the following observations with regard to legal position of Hindu wives: “Before parting with judgment, it would be appropriate to mention that no provision has been brought to my notice by learned counsel for the parties that if husband is insane or of unsound mind, the daughter in law who is not having any source of maintenance can claim maintenance for herself. Her situation is worse than being a widowed daughter in law when she has to care for her mentally ill husband. The wife should be considered dependent on the father-in-law and entitled to maintenance under Section 19 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act in this case.”

It goes without saying that the Hindu joint family system is built on the notion of maintenance. Maintenance was a supreme obligation imposed on a Hindu Karta whose dependants rely on him. The classical Hindu law is framed in such a way that no member of a Hindu joint family, especially the female members, should be left unprovided for Family Law scholars, Paras Diwan and Peeyushi Diwan note the relevance of the notion of the jointness of family life, to understand the basis of maintenance as follows: “Every member of the joint family has a right to maintenance against the joint family property. The karta’s job was to make sure that all of the family members’ legitimate needs were met. If the karta fails to perform his duties, the members of the joint family might seek legal recourse. Maintenance remained important even after the concept of self-acquired property and the coparcener’s right of partition emerged.

Rather, the concept of maintenance evolved and flourished. Previously, the right only applied to specific properties; now, it also applies to certain people. ” The obligation to provide maintenance arises under two conditions in classical Hindu law. It is either an occurrence of the parties’ connection that results in a personal responsibility to pay maintenance, or it is a result of the parties’ relationship. In some circumstances, the need to support particular family members is based on the holding of property, such as through inheritance. Several experts also point out that classical Hindu law distinguished between moral and legal maintenance rights. If a male Hindu fails to fulfil his moral obligation to provide maintenance during his lifetime, the requirement becomes a legal obligation that can be enforced against the deceased male’s property after his death. This not only demonstrates that a person’s obligation to maintain exists long after his death, but it also emphasises the importance of maintenance in classical Hindu law.

Among the many members of a Hindu joint family who rely on the Karta for their maintenance rights, the wife holds a unique place in classical Hindu maintenance law. All major legal academics believe that paying a wife’s maintenance is a personal obligation of her husband that begins to operate the moment the marriage is consummated. The refusal to maintain a wife is punished more severely than the refusal to maintain other members of a joint family.

To illustrate the above reality, Shatri’s exposition of the principle is particularly illuminating and relevant for our purpose here: “The establishment of such a relation, ipso-facto, provides a right to the wife to have maintenance from her husband, right to the daughter-in-law to have maintenance from her father-in-law in case of inability of the husband to maintain her and a right to the widow to have maintenance from the property of her husband or from those persons who are managing the affairs of the property of her husband.” This principle finds its reflection in an important judicial decision too.

The husband, an undivided member of a Hindu joint family, had forsaken his wife in Ramabai wife of Bhikaji Bhaskar v Trimbak Ganesh Desa i. The woman sought support from the husband’s relatives for herself and her child. The Bombay High Court held: “No doubt, the authorities do not show that the relations of a deserted wife are under a personal liability to maintain her; but they do show that she is entitled to be maintained out of her husband’s property to the extent of one-third of the proceeds of that property.” The wife’s claim to maintenance from her husband’s relatives was thus maintained by the High Court, despite the fact that the latter had no personal responsibility to do so. The fact that this judgement is quoted in the authoritative book, Mayne’s Hindu Law & Usage, to highlight the wife’s established right to claim maintenance from the husband’s family members on 13 February, 1928 the Madras High Court, indicates the validity of this holding.

“It is difficult to perceive any different between the position of a widow who has been forced to enforce her charge for maintenance and that of an abandoned wife who is obligated to do the same,” he said in Gopala Pattar v Parvathi Amma. If she has this right against her husband personally it can be enforced by the attachment and sale of his property and that property consists of an undivided share in the joint family property. So long as the husband is alive and available, a charge is of little benefit to the wife because she can effectively enforce the charge in execution; however, if the husband were to die or abscond, her right would be severely harmed because she would be unable to enforce the personal obligation and would have to institute proceedings against the family and against the family property.  It is if there is no legal opposition to the charge being made.” The High Court in the aforementioned case ordered that the abandoned wife be paid maintenance from her husband’s share of the joint family property. Mull’s Principles of Hindu Law offers a comprehensive overview of both classical and modern Hindu law, “When a person is excluded from inheritance on account of disability, he, his wife, and children are entitled to maintenance out of the property which he would have inherited but for the disability, and where he is excluded from a share on partition, he, his wife, and children are entitled to maintenance out of the property which he would have inherited but for the disability,” says Mitakshara, Chapter II, section 10, he and his wife and his children are entitled to have a provision made for their maintenance out of the joint family property.”Continued chastity is a pre-condition for grant of right to maintenance to a Hindu wife as per the statement of Mulla. It’s worth noting that, thanks to Section 28 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956, there’s no longer any disqualification from inheritance based on disease, disability, or deformity.

SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATION

In light of the preceding discussion, which stripped the matter bare by going deep into all of its nuances, the Researcher provides her unequivocal support to the Law Commission of India’s proposals, which would provide relief to a large number of disgruntled daughter-in-laws. The suggested Right of Hindu wife to Maintenance under Section18 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance recommendations to the existing law are insertion of sub-section 4 under Section 18 of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956 as below: “Section 18 (4) – Where the husband is unable to provide for his wife, on account of physical disability, mental disorder, disappearance, renunciation of the world by entering any religious order or other similar reasons, the Hindu wife is entitled to claim maintenance during her lifetime, from members of the joint Hindu family of the husband, except where the husband has received his share in the joint family property.”

Explanation: The term “mental disease” shall have the same meaning as it does in the Explanation to Section 13(1) (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, for the purposes of this Section.

Maintenance of Wife- Section 18(3) of HAMA, 1956 uses the word ‘unchaste’, which the Researcher recommends to be deleted. A woman’s chastity cannot be put to the test. Lord Rama tried to put his wife Sita’s chastity to the test by forcing her to undergo Agni-Pariksha, which was crueller than cruelty, according to our epic Ramayana. Duryodhana demanded a comparable concrete proof of chastity from his wife Draupadi in the Mahabharata.

CONCLUSION

In the sad event that the daughter-in-husband law’s is unable to support her, various High Courts and Supreme Court judgements from time to time impose an inevitable legal obligation on the father-in-law to support his daughter-in-law. This line of reasoning is backed up by a slew of legal luminaries. The revisions proposed by The Law Commission of India in its 252nd Report (6th January 2015) titled “Right of the Hindu Wife to Maintenance: A relook at Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 to make father-in-law obligated to pay maintenance to his daughter-in-law,  whose husband is unable to provide maintenance to her under Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. The researcher fully agrees with the proposed Amendment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1]. Archana Parashar, Women and Family Reform in India, New Delhi, Sage Publications, (1992) P.103

[2]. Dalbir Bharati, Women and Law, New Delhi, S.B. Nangia-APH Publishing Corporation, (2008),

[3]. Desai Satyajeet Atul, Sir Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, Principles of Hindu Law

[4] http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/2211/Right-of-Hindu-Wife-To-Maintenance-Under-Hindu-Adoption-And-Maintenance-Act.html

[5] https://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/rights-of-widowed-daughter-in-law-to-claim-maintenance-under-hindu-law/117819

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