Maintenance from Father-in-Law: Delhi High Court’s Recent Verdict

In a recent judgment delivered on 31stJuly 2023, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court addressed the issue of maintenance claimed by a daughter-in-law from her father-in-law under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. The court’s decision in CM(M) 242/2020 shed light on the criteria for such claims and their applicability.

Background of the Case

The case involved a petition filed by the daughter-in-law, seeking maintenance from her father-in-law after her husband’s demise. The court’s ruling was based on Section 19 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, which grants maintenance rights to widowed daughters-in-law.

Father-in-law's Arguments

The petitioners challenged the impugned order, claiming that there was no averment or finding of the petitioner no.1 (father-in-law) possessing any coparcenary property. Thus, they argued that the father-in-law could not be held liable to pay maintenance.

Image of a bundle of notes between judge hammer and it's base. Bedside's that there is a calculator. Text overlay says "Maintenance from Father-in-law".

Daughter-in-law's Arguments

The respondent’s counsel did not dispute the petitioner’s claim but asserted that the daughter-in-law had now become aware of certain coparcenary properties held by the petitioners. They planned to file an application before the Family Court to present this information.

Court's Contentions

The court analyzed Section 19 of the Act, emphasizing that maintenance claims arise only when the husband has died. Additionally, the daughter-in-law must demonstrate that the father-in-law possesses coparcenary property to claim maintenance under this provision.

Judgments Referred

The court cited previous judgments, including the Supreme Court’s Vimalben Ajitbhai Patel case and Delhi High Court’s Laxmi & Anr. case, reiterating that a daughter-in-law’s maintenance claim can only be sustained if the father-in-law holds coparcenary property.

Court's Decision

The court set aside the impugned order, ruling that without evidence of coparcenary property held by the father-in-law, the daughter-in-law’s claim for maintenance cannot be maintained. The respondent was permitted to submit relevant information to the Family Court for further consideration.

This judgment clarifies the criteria for a daughter-in-law’s maintenance claim from her father-in-law. For such claims to be valid, the daughter-in-law must establish that the father-in-law possesses coparcenary property.

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