Section 125 (1) (d) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is a provision in Indian Law whereby a Magistrate can order children to make a payment of monthly allowance as maintenance to their Parents (father or mother).
Relevant extracts from a few landmark judgments of Supreme Court and various High Courts of India are enumerated below:
• Father or mother must be unable to maintain himself or herself
• Fulfilment of parental obligation is not a pre-condition to claim maintenance
• Daughter is liable to pay maintenance to parents
• Adoptive mother can claim maintenance
• Step-mother can claim maintenance
• Application for maintenance to be filed where the son / daughter lives
1. Father or mother must be unable to maintain himself or herself : Bombay High Court in Pandurang Bhaurao Dabhade vs Baburao Baburao Dabhade and another (1980 CriLJ 256 = 1980 (82) BOMLR 116) said :
Giving a plain meaning to the language used in section 125(1) and to the provisions relating to the father and mother in Clause (d) thereof, the only two circumstances which have to be gone into for the purpose of deciding a claim under section 125(1) appear to be that the father or mother must be unable to maintain himself or herself and secondly, the person against whom an order under section 125(1) is sought must have sufficient means to maintain the father or mother and yet neglects or refuses to maintain the father or mother.
The provisions in section 125(1) is a very special provision enabling the Magistrate to make an order against a son or daughter for payment of a monthly allowance for the maintenance of the father or mother who is unable to maintain himself or herself. The provision in section 125 is one of general application and is not related to the personal law of the parties. Implicit in the provision, therefore, is the statutory recognition of the obligation that a son who has sufficient means is bound to maintain a father or mother who is unable to maintain himself or herself. The provision is really in the nature of an ameliorative provision made for the first time recognising the right of infirm parents who are unable to maintain themselves to be maintained by their son or daughter who is possessed of sufficient means as also providing a remedy to enforce that right.
2. Fulfilment of parental obligation is not a pre-condition to claim maintenance : Bombay High Court in Pandurang Bhaurao Dabhade vs Baburao Baburao Dabhade and another (1980 CriLJ 256 = 1980 (82) BOMLR 116) concluded :
Having considered the provisions of section 125(1), it is clear to us that they do not contemplate that the obligation to maintain an aged, infirm parent who is unable to maintain himself or herself can be enforced only if it is preceded by the fulfilment of the parental obligation to maintain and bring up the children during the childhood of the children.
The argument which is advanced before us stems more from amoral indignation at being required to maintain a father who has not cared for the children during the time when he should have done so. However, effect must be given to the intention of the legislature which must be found from the words of section 125(1) alone and the petitioner cannot ask to be relieved form the said statutory obligation on any moral considerations.
It appears to us, therefore, clear that since the father in the instant case has been found unable to maintain himself and the petitioner who is a son is fairly well placed and is refusing to maintain him, the father was entitled to an order for maintenance under section 125(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
3. Daughter is liable to pay maintenance to parents : Supreme Court in Dr. Mrs. Vijaya Manohar Arbat vs. Kashirao Rajaram Sawai & another (AIR 1987 SC 1100) said :
An application under section 125(1)(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, by a father claiming maintenance from his married daughter is perfectly maintainable.
There can be no doubt that it is the moral obligation of a son or a daughter to maintain his or her parents. It is not desirable that even though a son or a daughter has sufficient means, his or her parents would starve. Apart from any law, the Indian Society casts a duty on the children of a person to maintain their parents if they are not in a position to maintain themselves. It is also their duty to look after their parents when they become old and infirm.
The parents will be entitled to claim maintenance against their daughter provided, however, the other conditions as mentioned in the section are fulfilled. Before ordering maintenance in favour of a father or a mother against their married daughter, the court must be satisfied that the daughter has sufficient means of her own independently of the means or income of her husband, and that the father or the mother, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself.
Kerala High Court’s judgment in M. Areefa Beevi vs. Dr. K.M. Sahib (1983 CriLJ 412) reads:
Section 2 (y) of the Code (CrPC) says:
Words and expressions used herein and not defined but defined in the Penal Code have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that code.
“So we have to refer to the Indian Penal Code.
Section 8 of the I.P.C. reads: The pronoun “he” and its derivatives are used of any person, whether male or female.
Therefore the expression “his father or mother” occurring in Section 125 of the Cr. P.C. must be taken to have the meaning “her father or mother.”
4. Adoptive mother can claim maintenance : Bombay High Court in Baban Alias Madhav Dagadu Dange vs Parvatibai Dagadu Dange (1978 CriLJ 1436 = 1978 (80) BOMLR 305) said :
According to the definitions given in the General Clauses Act, the expression “father” includes both natural as well as adoptive father and the expression “son” also includes both natural born son as well as an adopted son.
It is true that the General Clauses Act has not defined the expression “mother”. But that does not mean that necessarily the expression should be taken in its restrictive sense. Indeed there are many expressions which have not been defined in the General Clauses Act. The General Clauses Act does not claim to be an encyclopaedia or dictionary which defines all expressions. One has therefore to look, while interpreting such expressions which have not been defined, to the context in which the expression has been used. It would have been a different matter, had the expression “mother” been defined by the General Clauses Act only to mean the “woman” who has given birth to the child, that is to say the natural mother only. Indeed the definition of the expressions “father” and “son” in the General Clauses Act would furnish a clue to the interpretation of the term “mother” which has been left undefined in that Act.
Now if expression “father” and “son” is to be given wider interpretation, we do not see any valid reason why the expression “mother” also should not be given similar wider interpretation so as to include an “adoptive mother” as well.
Such an interpretation would also seem to accord with the legal status of an adopted son.
5. Step-mother can claim maintenance : Supreme Court in Kirtikant D. Vadodaria vs. State of Gujarat and another (1996(4) SCC 479) said:
A childless step-mother may claim maintenance from her step-son provided she is widow or her husband, if living, is also incapable of supporting and maintaining her.
Karnataka High Court in Ulleppa S/o Siddanna Kamballi and others vs. Gangabai w/o Late Siddanna Kambali (2003 CriLJ 2566) said:
In the case on hand, material facts reveal that the step-mother namely the widow had two sons who are no more. Her daughter who is married, is living separately with her husband. This Court can take notice that in many cases, after marriage, the daughters join their husband’s family and that they may not be able to maintain their mother. Therefore from the facts of this case it is clear to me that the respondent (petitioner) is a widow and her daughter is not in a position to support and maintain her. In these circumstances, this Court can extend the logic and the reasonings of the Supreme Court by way of ordering maintenance to the respondents as though she is a helpless step-mother. To grant maintenance to such helpless step-mothers would be a motherly act and would be in consonance with the social object of providing maintenance to the destitute widow of Hindu Community. At the same time, I must add a rider that if it is proved that she has other modes of maintaining herself she may not able to get maintenance from her step-sons. The crucial question is as to whether she can maintain herself without support in the given set of facts. If the answer is ‘yes’ then she can claim maintenance from her step-sons. In the case on hand, the evidence on record would show that she is living alone and on account of her old age she is unable to maintain herself. It is not the case of the petitioners that her daughter can maintain her. If that were to be the reason she would not have filed the application. Taking into consideration the object of Section 125, the realities of helpless widow with a married daughter living separately, this Court has to lend its hands in the larger interest of attaining the object of Section 125.
6. Application for maintenance to be filed where the son / daughter lives : Supreme Court in Vijay Kumar Prasad vs State of Bihar & Others (2004 AIR 2123) said :
It is to be noted that Clauses (b) & (c) of sub section (1) of Section 126 relate to the wife and the children under Section 125 of the Code. The benefit given to the wife and the children to initiate proceeding at the place where they reside is not given to the parents. A bare reading of the Section makes it clear that the parents cannot be placed on the same pedestal as that of the wife or the children for the purpose of Section 126 of the Code.
As noted by this Court in several cases, proceedings under Section 125 of the Code are of civil nature. Unlike clauses (b) and (c) of Section 126(1) an application by the father or the mother
claiming maintenance has to be filed where the person from whom maintenance is claimed lives.