Wife not entitled to Alimony if Husband not of Marriageable age during Marriage: SC
In this post we’ll read about a recent judgment of The Supreme Court in which it said that if a person is of not marriageable age at the time of marriage then there is no need to pay alimony/maintenance to his ex spouse.
NO ALIMONY WHEN MAN NOT OF MARRIAGEABLE AGE
Supreme Court stays the order for maintenance to wife by a person who married at a age less than 21.
FACTS OF THE CASE
Rai’s client was 20 when he eloped with a woman, 18, from the same village in Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district in March 2006.The couple went to Jamshedpur where they lived together for around a week. When they came back to their village, the petition stated, the panchayat tried to get them married, but a ruckus followed and the wedding never took place. Subsequently, the woman filed two cases against the man – one alleging cruelty, and another demanding maintenance on the ground that their live-in relationship had to be treated as a relationship in the nature of a marriage.The trial court, as per the petition filed through Lexolve Partners, sentenced the man to one year in jail under the charge of cruelty. He was also ordered to pay ₹5,000 to the woman every month as maintenance. When the man filed appeals against these orders, the Jharkhand High Court dropped the criminal case, holding that since they never got married, the charge of cruelty under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code was not made out. But the order to pay maintenance was upheld.On Friday, Rai commenced her arguments before the bench, which also included justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, highlighting the legal conundrum that surfaced due to the alimony order. She referred to her client’s educational certificate to show he was only 20 at the time of this relationship.
LEGAL PROVISIONS INVOLVED
Alimony comes as a relief to those who cannot maintain themselves owing to their personal reasons and conditions. The personal laws of different religions in India govern the maintenance rights of a woman.
Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act 1955 deals with maintenance for both spouses, wife also has an additional option under Section 18 of Hindu Adoption and maintenance Act,1956. Muslim women’s protection Act 1986 lays down provisions for the maintenance. Section 36 37 and 38 of Indian Divorce Act 1869 deals with alimony under Christian law. Apart from the above-mentioned maintenance laws in different religions, there is also Right to Maintenance under Section 125, of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which was legislated as a tool for social justice. But section 5 of Hindu marriage act and According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 the minimum legal age of marriage in India is 18 years for girls with no exceptions. For boys, the legal age of marriage is 21. If the spouses are less than the prescribed age the marriage is void able.
“The law is clear that valid age for a man to marry is 21. When a man cannot enter into a valid wedlock because of the prohibition of age under the law, how can any relationship be treated as a ‘deemed’ marriage if the man is less than 21? How can my client be asked to pay maintenance when he was not even in the legal age to marry?” this are the arguments raised by advocate Rachitta Priyanka Rai. Just a one week live in relationship with out any valid marriage between persons who are less than marriage able age is not a valid marriage and both trial court and High Court have done a gross mistake my ordering to pay maintenance.
Through the arguments of the advocate Rai Supreme Court untangled the legal ridding regarding the issue of alimony by a person who married when he was just 20, which is less than the age for a valid marriage. Finally supreme court stayed the order of high court to pay maintenance and opined that the decision of lower courts where wrong.
This post is written by Revathi Balakrishnan
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