The Supreme Court ruled that Section 125 Cr.P.C. is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children.
The appellant and the respondent had married as per the Hindu rites and out of the said wedlock, two children i.e., daughter Megha Garg and son Rachit Garg were born.
The appellants filed the Maintenance Petition under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. seeking maintenance from the respondent alleging inter-alia that the respondent was subjecting the appellant-wife to utmost cruelty and physical and mental torture.
As a result thereof, she had to leave her matrimonial home along with children time and again. Allegations were also made against the respondent that he was demanding Rs. One crore as dowry from the father of the appellant.
Though her father had given him Rs. two lakhs in 2005, and had also made payment of Rs. 4,50,000/- to one Rajdip Soan Industries, on behalf of the respondent to pay off the loan, the respondent had continued to harass the appellant.
Ultimately, the appellant along with her children left the matrimonial home in 2010 and started residing in a rental premises. According to the appellants-applicants, the respondent had failed and neglected to maintain them, and they being unable to maintain themselves, the Maintenance Petition under section 125 of Cr.P.C. was filed.
The counsel for the appellant submitted that the version of the appellant-wife, who had stepped into the witness box, as also the version of the other witnesses examined by her had remained unchallenged, as the Family Court had closed the right of the respondent to cross-examine the witnesses and, therefore, there was no reason for the Family Court not to believe the version of the appellant-wife which was stated by her on oath.
The counsel for the respondent however submitted that the appellant-wife had left the matrimonial home along with the children without any justifiable reason and had failed to prove that she was unable to maintain herself.
The division bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Bela M. Trivedi noted that Section 125 of Cr.P.C. was conceived to ameliorate the agony, anguish and financial suffering of a woman who is required to leave the matrimonial home, so that some suitable arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself and the children.
The Court had made the above observations as the Court felt that the Family Court in the said case had conducted the proceedings without being alive to the objects and reasons, and the spirit of the provisions under Section 125 of the Code.
The court said that the Family Court had disregarded the basic canon of law that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife and to the minor children.
“The husband is required to earn money even by physical labour, if he is an able-bodied, and could not avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds mentioned in the statute” the court added.
The bench observed that Section 125 Cr.P.C. is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children. It also falls within the Constitutional sweep of Article 15(3), reinforced by Article 39 of the Constitution of India.
It was further observed that the Family Court, in the instant case had not only overlooked and disregarded the aforesaid settled legal position, but had proceeded with the proceedings in an absolutely perverted manner.
The bench said that the very fact that the right of the respondent to cross-examine the witnesses of the appellant-original applicant was closed, as he had failed to appear before the Family Court despite the issuance of warrants, clearly established that he had no regards for his own family nor had any regards for the Court or for the law.
“In absence of any evidence on record adduced by the respondent disputing the evidence adduced by the appellant, the Family Court could not have passed the order believing the oral submissions of the counsel for the respondent” the court stated.
The Court would have remanded the matter back to the High Court for considering it afresh, however considering the fact that the matter has been pending before the Court since the last four years, and remanding it back would further delay the proceedings, the Court deemed it proper to pass the order.
The court held that though the respondent had sufficient source of income and was able-bodied, had failed and neglected to maintain the appellants.
The bench deemed it proper to grant maintenance allowance of Rs.10,000/- per month to the appellant-wife, over and above the maintenance allowance of Rs. 6,000/- granted by the Family Court to the appellant son.
Case title: Anju Garg & Anr. v/s Deepak Kumar Garg
Citation: Criminal appeal no. 1693 of 2022