CrPC 125 has provision to send husband to jail for not paying maintenance. In a recent judgment, husband was ordered to serve jail term for 44 months since he was in default for 44 months of maintenance ordered under CrPC 125. However sending jail for each month of default probably seems a liberal interpretation, because the plan reading of the section says that a month of jail can be sentenced for each order which is not adhered to.
MUMBAI: Coming to the aid of neglected wives, the Bombay high court has ruled that men who fail to pay a court-ordered maintenance to their estranged spouses can be jailed for every month that they default on the payment.
“This case exemplifies the stark reality of the agony that the women face when their husbands disobey orders of maintenance with impunity,’’ said Justice Roshan Dalvi.
“The husband (in the present case) has been a consistent, persistent, consummate and inveterate defaulter,’’ he added, upholding a family court order, sending Shyam Patil to prison for 44 months, the period for which he failed to pay the maintenance amount.
Following an application filed by his wife, Seema, under Section 125 of the CrPC, Patil was directed to pay Rs 1,000 per month, which was later increased to Rs 1,500 per month. The special provision under the section allows a wife or parents to move court, seeking maintenance from a man on grounds of neglect. If he defaults, he could face a maximum jail term of one month.
After Patil failed to pay any part of the maintenance amount, Seema moved the family court for the arrears for the years 2006 to 2009 in four separate applications. Acting on her application, the court sentenced Patil to imprisonment for 44 months—equal number of months that he had defaulted—or pay the arrears of Rs 50,000 in one go. Patil challenged the order in the high court.
Patil’s lawyers argued that for each application filed by the spouse, the man could be sentenced for a maximum prison term of one month, which in this case, would mean four months. Countering the argument, the HC cited the provision, which stated that for every breach of the order of monthly maintenance, the man could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to one month or until payment—if sooner—was made. “The family court judge has exercised his power of sentencing the husband for every breach of the order of payment of maintenance to one month each,’’ said the judge, dismissing Patil’s application. The HC said the family court was right in fixing the jail term to the number of months that Patil was in arrears.