April 16, 2021

Concept of Maintenance under Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956

Family Law

Maintenance has been defined in the sec.3(b) of the Act and it is used in the wide sense. It defines that ‘providing food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical expenses’ and in case of unmarried daughter, it includes reasonable expenses of her marriage.[1]

It is mainly financial support paid by the spouse or father that covers all the necessities of life. This section states that if a marriage grant is given to an unmarried daughter, it will cover all the expenses necessary for daily living before marriage. Md. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum[2] The court in this case provided alimony to the accused wife of Islam, where it is considered that there is no need to take any care of the wife as the husband has paid the girl (the girl’s return) during the marriage. The controversy led to the enactment of the Muslim Women’s Law (Protection of Divorce) in 1986 to overturn the Shah Bano decision. However, he is in an alliance with Daniel Latifi v. Union of India[3]



 Under sec.125 crpc women have a right to claim maintenance, in case of Savitabenben bhatiya v. state of Gujrat[4] ,the apex court define the term wife which mean legally wedded wife and give two conditions first wife must be legally wedded and second marriage should be legal in the eye of law.


After the divorce, the husband must pay alimony to his wife. However, it is the father’s duty to pay alimony to his bride if her husband dies. Section 20 of the act spells- 

A Hindu is required to maintain his natural as well as adopted sons. The mere refusal of a son to live with his father does not disentitle him from claiming maintenance, though quantum of maintenance may be affected.[5]Hindu male or female should support their children, whether legal or illegal. Raj Kishore Mishra v. Smt. Meena Mishra, it was held that the obligation of father-in-law shall not be enforceable if he has no means to maintain his daughter-in-law from any coparcenary property in his possession out of which the daughter-in-law has not obtained any share.


Before 1956, the term ‘dependent’ was not used in Hindu law. Dependent is someone who relies on his parents, siblings or other relatives for support. Section 21 of the act spells that in the context of this act dependents refer to the following relatives of the deceased- father, mother, widow who has not remarried and a minor son, grandson, or great-grandson with predeceased father and grandfather. If the deceased cannot make dependents independent, support must be provided. Section 21 of the Act defined dependent persons while Section 22 clarify that such persons have the right to care.


 The family structure also changes as the weather and social needs change. As we have seen today, families are more nuclear and unwilling to take responsibility for the parents of children. In case of Areefa Beedi v. K.M sahib[6] the Kerala High Court held “The sentence of the father or mother must be interpreted as the meaning of the father and mother.” Now, the next most important question related to this rule is, this rule indicates that the terms “father” and “mother” refer to “adoptive father or mother” and “adoptive father or stepmother.” As per sec.3 (20) of the General Conditions Act of 1897, a ‘father’ must be a ‘adoptive father’, but nonetheless there is a ‘mother’.


The maintenance of ordinary family members is necessary. As long as the family remains united, all its members are entitled to maintenance against the property of the common family. People applying for family fund interviews can be divided into the following three items Coparceners qualified as well as unqualified, wifes, widows and unmarried daughters of guardian’s Other family members it includes male members who are not co-guards (only a male descendant after the fourth grade) and Wives and illegitimate children of the father.


The obligation to maintain children is a personal obligation and stems from the personal relationship between parent and child. What has happened before is that only the father has the obligation to keep the legal child. Modern Hindu law has imposed an obligation on both parents and legal and illegitimate children. T Vimala and Others v. Ramakrishnan[7] “Eligibility of Children to Claim maintenance” was discussed it was held that children who become major and do not suffer any kind of disability (mental or physical) can claim maintenance from their fathers. Children can also claim for educational expenses under section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure “In a case the Supreme Court to advance the scheme of social justice incorporated in Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure maintained the maintenance granted to a daughter who attained the majority and did not suffer any disability for incorporating section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.”


 For wife– To support his wife financially, she must have grown up after the divorce. But there are some exceptions to this rule. Section 18 (3) of the Act spells that forfeiture of the claim of maintenance- an unchaste wife has no right to claim separate residence and maintenance, Even if you are no longer Indian and have converted to another religion that is not a Hindu religion and when the wife who had cohabitation with her husband forfeits her claim for separate residence and maintenance, because the pre- condition of the claim is that the wife is living separately from her husband, if that pre-condition ceases to exist the wife cannot continue claim maintenance.[8]

 As per sec.18(2) when wife lives apart with the consent of the husband is entitled to maintenance. She is also entitled if she lives separate from the husband for a justifiable cause. In case of Sanju Devi v. State of Bihar[9], the apex court, the SC overturned the Court’s decision to waive the right to alimony due to the divorce of the couple under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 in court. The court also ruled that a divorced woman had the right to alimony and that a legally divorced woman had no right to alimony.

  According to the section, a woman can live apart from her husband and require maintenance in the following cases:

1. Her husband divorces her for no apparent reason and without permission or indirect attention.

2. man is incurable and suffers from an infectious disease.

3 Husband has another wife or master in the same house or lives elsewhere with another wife or master.

  1. Husband has moved on to other religions or other valid reasons that could lead to a woman living separately.


for all courts- In the payment of interim maintenance, the court has decided that disclosure of assets and liabilities should be filed by both parties. this precondition should be uniform throughout the country for all courts.

this will lead to determining the amount of maintenance to be paid. apart from the above requirements, the court in question can also ask for other documents to be filed as and when required to arrive at a figure.


Unmarried Hindu daughter can claim maintenance from father until she Is married- In case Abhilasha vs. Prakash & Others[10], here the unmarried daughter was found to be entitled to get maintenance from October 17, 2002, when she filed the application till February 7, 2005, when she became a major.

Maintenance of wife- Husband doesn’t have to pay maintenance in each of the proceedings under different Maintenance laws- In case of Rajnesh vs. Neha[11]



After studying the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, a brought a new perspective on Indian law has been determined. The document discusses not only the law on the adoption and care of Indians, but also the law on Indian marriage and marriage, as well as the care of children and elderly parents, the care of widows, and unmarried girls, serving members of the municipality, family, widowed bride. Recent court rulings show that the Indian courts have gradually been liberal in ruling on alimony cases. Maintenance not only for the wife but also for all, which includes the maintenance of the daughter-in-law, the widow, the maintenance of children and elderly parents, the maintenance of dependents or the maintenance of family members. This provision, therefore, implies the public duty of a person who can support himself to support those who cannot. Over time, people have made a preconceived notion of the Code, the fear of minorities cannot be forgotten, on the contrary, the fear of being overshadowed by the laws of the executive majority.

[1] Chandra v. Nanak 1974 Del. 175

[2] 1985 2SCC 556

[3] 2001 7 SCC 740

[4] 2005 3 SCC 636

[5] Sardul Singh v. Pratap Singh, 1877 P.R 46

[6] 1983

[7] 24 June 2016

[8] Venkayya v. Raghavamma, 1942 Mad. 1

[9] (2018) 1 RCR (CRIMINAL) 196 , 2017 SC 1377 …

[10] Criminal Appeal No. 615 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.8260/2018)

[11]  594 SC 04 Nov 2020.

Author Details: Sajal Singhal [Student, Amity Law School, Gwalior (Amity University)]


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