Sanjivani Ramchandra vs. Bhimrao Kondalkar case held that a wife who has been divorced on the ground of committing adultery is entitled to claim under maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Section 125 (4) of the CrPC distinctly specifies the above principle.
EQUIVALENT CITATIONS: 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 6581, Criminal Writ Petition No.2547 Of 2016
DATE OF JUDGEMENT: December 18th, 2019
COURT: The High Court of Judicature at Bombay
BENCH: Justice Nitin W. Sambre
FACTS OF SANJIVANI RAMCHANDRA CASE:
- The petitioner and the respondent got married on May 6th, 1980, and got divorced in 2000 under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 on the ground that the petitioner had engaged in adultery. The Court had awarded the petitioner,150 per month and their son, 25 per month in maintenance while approving the husband’s divorce petition.
- The petitioner, on the other hand, applied to increase the sum of maintenance, which a Magistrate Court approved in 2010. The Magistrate increased the petitioner’s maintenance amount to Rs. 500 and the son’s maintenance amount to Rs. 400.
- The husband applied to request for cancellation of maintenance, citing Section 125 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which was declined. Following that, the husband filed a revision application, which was granted in 2015 by the Sessions Court, Sangli.
- The petitioner challenged the Sessions Court’s decision in the Bombay High Court and sought restoration of maintenance, under Section 125 of the CrPC.
- Whether the petitioner entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973?
- The petitioner contended that she is a divorcee and comes within the meaning of the term ‘woman’ as specified in Section 125 of the CrPC and is thus entitled to maintenance under Section 125.
- The counsel for the petitioner cited the cases of Vanmala v. H M Ranganatha Bhatta (1995) and Rohtash Singh v Ramendri (2000) wherein the Supreme Court held that even if a decree of divorce is issued on the grounds of adultery, the bar under Sub-section (4) of Section 125 of the Act would not be attracted because, even after divorce, though she no longer has the status of a wife but remains a woman.
- The respondent argued that the Sessions Court was justified in refusing maintenance to the wife because of the statutory embargo under Section 125 (4) of the CrPC.Section 125 states that a wife is not entitled to receive an allowance from her husband if she is living in adultery.
Justice Nitin W. Sambre: The rulings of the Honorable Supreme Court cited by the petitioner are extraneous and do not extend to the current case as both the cases were centered on determining the right of a woman who was not divorced due to proven adultery.
Given the explicit embargo on the Petitioner’s right to demand maintenance in particular, and the fact that divorce was granted based on the accusation of adultery, the Court below correctly determined that it does not entitle the petitioner to maintenance.
The Bombay Court upheld the decision of the Sessions Court in ruling that the petitioner is not entitled to claim maintenance under Article 125 of the CrPC. The Court dismissed the petitions filed by the petitioner due to lack of merit.
While dealing with an uncommon and interesting issue in the case of Sanjivani Ramchandra Kondalkar vs. Ramchandra Bhimrao Kondalkar, the Bombay High Court, by interpreting Clause (4) of Section 125 of the CrPC, set forth and explicated the rule that a wife who had been divorced for committing adultery loses the right to claim maintenance from her husband.
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