Bombay High Court Rules, Widowed Daughter-in-law Not Obligated to Maintain In-laws under Section 125 CrPC

The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad division has ruled that, in accordance with Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), in-laws cannot demand maintenance from a widowed daughter-in-law.

The father-in-law and mother-in-law are not included in the full list of relatives who are eligible to claim support under the clause, according to Justice Kishore C Sant, who was sitting at Aurangabad.

“It is clear that the respondents are not entitled to receive maintenance from the petitioner on the counts firstly that they are not coming under the relation mentioned in Section 125. Secondly the appointment of the petitioner was not on a compassionate ground in place of her husband. Thirdly on the count that the respondent no.2 has also received an amount of Rs. 1,88,000/- after the death of deceased son”.

Justice Kishore C Sant

The Court pointed out that the High Court had already considered a similar issue in a different case and had made it clear that the in-laws would not be permitted to demand support from their widowed daughter-in-law.

The petitioner Shobha’s spouse was employed by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) as a conductor at the time of his death, according to the case’s circumstances. Later, the petitioner was hired by the State’s health division. She was asked for maintenance by her elderly in-laws since they are elderly and incapable of taking care of themselves.

The Nyayadhikari Gram Nyayalaya, Jalkot in the Latur district, approved their request for maintenance. The petitioner, however, objected to the same claim, stating that the in-laws had four married daughters who are all successful in their lives. She emphasised that her in-laws had at least 2.30 acres of property and that the mother-in-law received Rs 1.88 lakh following the death of her husband.

In addition to this sum, the petitioner’s minor son received some cash. The petitioner further argued that because each of the four daughters owned a portion of her in-laws’ property, the daughters were responsible for paying maintenance to their parents.

The lawyer for Shobha’s in-laws said that they were totally reliant on their son, citing a case in which the High Court had mandated that a widowed daughter-in-law sustain her elderly in-laws. It was argued that everything (properties) under their son’s name will be transferred to the petitioner’s name, making it her responsibility to look after the ageing in-laws when she succeeds to the property.

The petitioner refuted the assertion, pointing out that the case in which the court had mandated that the daughter-in-law support her in-laws was dealt with on a separate level. She emphasised that the daughter-in-law in that situation had accepted a job on a humanitarian basis and had agreed to provide support for the family. In this instance, the petitioner maintained that she was not required by Section 125 of the CrPC to pay maintenance since she did not obtain her employment on humanitarian grounds and did not take the place of her husband.

When the bench agreed with the arguments, it overturned the Nyayadhikari Gramme Nyayalaya’s decisions. The categories of people who are eligible to claim support are already stated in the provision and do not include in-laws, hence the court did not examine this motion for proceedings under section 125 of the CrPC.

The mother-in-law had already received a certain amount following the death of her son, and the court dismissed the financial assistance decision on the grounds that in-laws are not listed in section 125 CrPC, her appointment was not made out of sympathy for her husband. The court determined that there is no basis for the in-laws to demand support from their daughter-in-law because they had their own land and house.

As per Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), a person who has sufficient means but neglects or refuses to maintain his or her parents, wife or children, can be ordered by a magistrate to make a monthly allowance for their maintenance.

In 2016, the Bombay High Court held that a widowed daughter-in-law is not liable to maintain her parents-in-law under Section 125 of the CrPC. The court held that the expression “wife” used in Section 125 of the CrPC refers only to a legally married wife and not to a daughter-in-law. The court further observed that a daughter-in-law, whether she is legally divorced or widowed, has no legal obligation to maintain her parents-in-law.

However, the court also stated that if the daughter-in-law is voluntarily maintaining her parents-in-law, then she cannot be stopped from doing so.

Case Title: Shobha Sanjay Tidke vs Kishanrao Ramrao Tidke.

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