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Introduction: In a groundbreaking judgment, the Dharwad Bench of Karnataka High Court clarified the legal stance on maintenance claims by daughter-in-law against parents-in-law. This article explores the key details and implications of the case.

It would be of immense significance to note that in a very significant case pertaining to the matrimonial disputes and so also matrimonial claims, the Dharwad Bench of Karnataka High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Abdul Khader & Anr vs Tasleem Jamela Agadi & Ors in Rev Pet Family Court (RPFC) No. 100026 of 2022 and cited in 2024 LiveLaw (Kar) 121 and so also cited in Neutral Citation No. : NC:2024:KHC-D:4296 that was pronounced on February 21, 2024 has minced just no words absolutely to hold unambiguously that under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a daughter-in-law cannot lay a claim for maintenance against her parents-in-law. It must be noted that a Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice V Srishananda allowed the petition that had been filed by an elderly couple and set aside the order passed by the Trial Court dated 30.11.2021 directing them to pay Rs 20,000 to the wife of their deceased son and Rs 5000 to his children. What must also be definitely mentioned here is that the Bench was dealing with the revision petition that was challenging the order that had been passed by the Family Court.

While taking a holistic view, we thus see clearly that the Bench very rightly and rationally set aside the order and so also granted liberty to the respondents to proceed against the revision petitioners in accordance with law for appropriate relief. We must also note here that this R.P.F.C. is filed under Section 19(4) of the Family Court Act, 1984, praying to allow this revision petition, set aside the order dated 30.11.2021 in CRL.MISC.NO.155/2021 passed by the Principal Judge Family Court Ballari, in the interest of justice and equity. Very rightly so!

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice V Srishananda of the Dharwad Bench of Karnataka High Court sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Miss. Kavita Jadhav representing Shri. Arun L. Neelopant, learned counsel for the revision petitioners and Shri. Prashant Mathapati, learned counsel for respondent No.1.”

As we see, the Bench then specifies the purpose of filing revision petition by stating in para 2 that, “Revision Petition is filed by the respondents in Criminal Miscellaneous No.155/2021 on the file of Principal Judge, Family Court, Ballari, challenging the order dated 30.11.2021.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in para 3 while dwelling on the facts of the case that, “Facts in brief are as under:

3.1. Respondents herein namely Tasleem Jamela and and her children claiming to be the wife and children of Late Khaja Mainudden Agadi, filed a petition under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short ‘Cr.P.C.’), seeking for grant of maintenance on the ground of after the death of Khaja Mainudden Agadi, the respondents being the parents-in-law failed to maintain the petitioners.”

As it turned out, the Bench enunciates in para 4 that, “Petition on contest, came to be allowed by granting sum of Rs.20,000/- per month to the first petitioner and sum of Rs.5,000/- to the petitioner Nos.2 to 5.”

As things stands, the Bench discloses in para 5 that, “Being aggrieved by the same, respondents who are the parents-in-law of the first petitioner in Criminal Miscellaneous No.155/2021 and first respondent in the present revision petition filed the present revision petition challenging the very validity and jurisdiction of the learned Magistrate in entertaining a petition under Section 125 of Cr.P.C.”

Needless to say, the Bench states in para 8 that, “Having heard the parties in detail, this Court perused the material on record meticulously.”

Most significantly, the Bench mandates in para 10 what constitutes the cornerstone of this notable judgment that, “On close reading of the provision under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., a daughter-in-law cannot lay a claim against her parents-in-law. Provisions of law envisage that a wife can lay a claim for maintenance.”

No less significant is what is then propounded aptly in para 11 that, “Likewise, parents can maintain a petition against their major children. So also minor children can lay a claim.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then notes in para 12 that, “In the absence of any power vested in the Court under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., to entertain a petition filed by the daughter-in-law against her parents in law, this Court is of the considered opinion that the entire order is honest for want of jurisdiction.”

Finally, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 13 that, “Accordingly, the following order is passed:

ORDER

(i) Revision Petition is allowed. Impugned order is set aside.

(ii) Setting aside the order and dismissal of the petition under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., shall not preclude the respondents to proceeds against the revision petitioners in accordance with law for appropriate relief.

All told, we thus see that the Karnataka High Court has set the record straight by clarifying the proper legal position that daughter-in-law cannot claim maintenance from parents-in-law under Section 125 of the CrPC. It is thus imperative that all the courts must definitely in similar such cases pay heed without fail to what the Karnataka High Court has held in this leading case so clearly, concisely, cogently and convincingly! There can definitely be just no denying or disputing it.

Conclusion: The Karnataka High Court’s decision sets a precedent, firmly establishing that a daughter-in-law cannot seek maintenance from parents-in-law under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. Courts nationwide should heed this ruling in similar cases. The judgment, authored by Hon’ble Mr Justice V Srishananda, serves as a logical and authoritative guide, clarifying the legal landscape surrounding maintenance claims in matrimonial disputes.

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