Concern over legal loopholes in maintenance law
One-liner: The Delhi High Court has expressed its concern over legal loopholes in the maintenance law letting offending parties to slip away as it set aside an order directing payment by a man to his wife.
Cohabitation cited: The judge stated that in spite of the parties cohabitating as husband and wife, it is not legally tenable to raise a presumption of a valid marriage because both of them were already married to their respective spouses and their marriages were subsisting.
- Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) says that if any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, the trial court may order such a person to make a monthly allowance for her maintenance.
- This court finds it unfortunate that many women, especially those belonging to the poorer strata of society, are routinely exploited in this manner, and that legal loopholes allow the offending parties to slip away unscathed.
Court clarifies: The court clarified that the woman has the liberty to avail of other remedies that may be better suited to the facts and circumstances of this case, such as seeking compensation under the Domestic Violence Act.
- In the present case, the court noted, the parties were married according to Hindu rites in 1999.
- In Sept 2011, the woman filed a plea seeking maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC and subsequently an order was passed by the family court directing the man to pay her Rs 4,200 a month as maintenance.
Order challenged: He challenged the order before the high court contending that since both the parties were already married to other people, there was no valid marriage between them and no order could have been passed under Section 125 of the CrPC.