Hindu law is considered a divine law and the different sages life have expounded and refined the unique ideas of life. Under Hindu law, marriage is considered to be a sacrament. There are many sources of Hindu law, and these are broadly divided into two sources, that is the ancient sources and the modern sources. The ancient sources are Shruti, Smriti, Customs, Commentaries & Digests and the Modern sources of the same are Precedent, Legislation, Equity, Justice and good conscience.
Section 18 to 28 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 deals with the provision of Maintenance. There are 4 different types of provisions regarding the issue of maintenance :-
- Provisions under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- Provisions under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
- Provisions under the Protection of Women from the Domestic Violence Act.
- Provisions under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
Section 3(b) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 states, “in all cases, provisions for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment, in the case of an unmarked daughter, also the reasonable expenses of an incident to her marriage. The Hindu adoption and maintenance act lays down the provisions relating to maintenance rights of a woman under Hindu laws. Under the act,
- The wife
- Elderly parents
- Other dependents have a right to claim maintenance.
Section 18 of the maintenance of wife states that a Hindu wife shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime.
Wife is eligible for maintenance when living separately (a) if he is guilty of desertion (b) if the husband has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injures the life in any way ( c) if he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy (d) if he has any other wife living (e) if he keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife s living or habitually rewrites with a concubine elsewhere (f) if he has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion (g) if there is any other cause justifying living separately.
Notably, the wife will not be entitled to separate residence as well as maintenance from the husband if-
- She is unchaste (committed offence of adultery) or
- Ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion
Section 19 deals with the Maintenance of the widowed daughter-in-law, under the Hindu adoptions and maintenance act, 1956. If she is able to maintain herself out of her own earnings or other property – herself, where she has no property of her own from the estate of her husband, or her father or her mother or her children, if all the above conditions fail, the father-in-law provides for her maintenance.
This happens only when he has sufficient means that is from any coparcenary property in his possession. It is pertinent to note that if the daughter-in-law remarries, then any such obligation will cease and she will not be entitled to claim any further maintenance.
Section 20 deals with the maintenance of children and the aged parents. A Hindu male or female is bound, during his or her lifetime, to maintain his or her legitimate children, a daughter who is unmarried, his or her aged or infirm parents. If they are unable to maintain himself or herself out of his or her own earnings or other property.
Section 21 deals with the rights of the dependants of the deceased to claim maintenance from the heir of the deceased.
The following are true dependents :- father of the deceased, mother of the deceased, widow of the deceased, son, grandson, great-grandson of the deceased provided he’s a minor, unmarked daughter, granddaughter or great-granddaughter of the deceased provided she’s unmarried, any widow of the deceased son or grandson provided she doesn’t remarry and can’t get maintenance from her husband, the illegitimate son of the deceased provided he’s a minor and the illegitimate daughter of the deceased provided she’s unmarried.
Section 22 deals with the maintenance of the dependents. The heirs of a deceased Hindu are bound to maintain his/her “dependent’s” out of his/her estate inherited by them. Where a dependent has not obtained, by testamentary or intestate-succession, the dependent shall be entitled maintenance from those who take the estate.
The liability of each of the persons who takes the estate shall be in proportion to the value of the share or part of the estate taken by him or her. No person who is himself a dependent shall be liable to contribute to the maintenance of others, if he or she has obtained a share or part the value of which is, or would, if the liability to contribute were enforced, become less than what would be awarded to him or her by way of maintenance under this act.
In Padmja Sharma v. Ratan Lal Sharma, it was held by the court that a Hindu earning mother is also obliged to maintain children. Both, a Hindu divorcee father and a Hindu divorcee earning mother are obliged to contribute for maintenance of their children under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.