Guidelines on Maintenance laid down by Supreme Court. The right to claim maintenance under all enactments, including those under Section 125 of the CrPC, must date back to filing of the application: Supreme Court.
“Financial constraints of a dependent spouse hamper their capacity to be effectively represented before the court. In order to prevent a dependant from being reduced to destitution, it is necessary that maintenance is awarded from the date on which the application for maintenance is led before the court concerned,” a Bench headed by Justice Indu Malhotra said.
“The delay in adjudication is not only against human rights, but also against the basic embodiment of dignity of an individual,” it said, while deciding maintenance application u/s 125 Cr.P.C in a matrimonial case from Maharashtra.
As courts adopt different judicial yardstick to grant interim maintenance and permanent alimony in matrimonial cases, the SC also laid down guidelines to ensure uniformity in judicial practice in such matters.
The guidelines addressed issues of overlapping jurisdiction, interim maintenance, criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, date from which maintenance is to be awarded and execution of orders of maintenance.
The order will apply to lower courts, such as family courts, district courts, and magistrate’s courts. The idea of the order was to bring uniformity in judgments in different cases.
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.
The issue of overlapping jurisdiction, in which orders from different courts could be different in nature, would also be required felt the top court. This can be handled through some methods. For example, in cases of successive claims for maintenance, coming in under different statutes, courts will have to adjust or set off the amount awarded in a previous proceeding. The next award of maintenance, thus, will account for past awards.
For this, full disclosure of past awards from another court or the same court will have to be made by the parties.
All such orders would be executed U/S 28A of the Hindu Marriage Act, Section 20(6) of the Domestic Violence Act or Section 128 of CrPC.