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Section 125 of CrPC: A Legal Umbrella for Women in India

Introduction to Section 125 of CrPC

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, is a seminal legal provision that provides a quick and effective remedy against individuals who neglect or refuse to maintain their dependent wives, children, and parents. This provision forms an essential part of the law relating to women in India, as it enshrines a statutory duty on a husband to provide maintenance to his wife.



Understanding the Essentials of Section 125 CrPC

Section 125 of CrPC lays down specific conditions under which a person is legally obliged to provide maintenance. It contains four essential elements:

  1. The person claiming maintenance: The person claiming maintenance must either be a wife unable to maintain herself, or a legitimate or illegitimate minor child, or a legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority, where such child is unable to maintain itself, or the father or mother unable to maintain himself or herself.

  2. The person from whom maintenance is claimed: Maintenance can be claimed from any person who, having sufficient means, neglects or refuses to maintain the claimant.

  3. Neglect or refusal to maintain: There must be a neglect or refusal to maintain by the person having sufficient means. It is enough if the wife lives separately, with sufficient cause, even without obtaining a divorce.

  4. Quantum of maintenance: The maintenance allowance cannot exceed Rs.500 per month. However, the amount can be increased or decreased by the magistrate, considering the facts and circumstances of the case.


Relevant Case Laws Pertaining to Section 125 CrPC

  1. Bhagwan Dutt v. Kamla Devi (1975): The Supreme Court in this case held that the purpose of Section 125 is to prevent starvation and vagrancy by compelling those who can support those who are unable to support themselves and who have a moral claim to support.

  2. Rohtash Singh v. Ramendri (2000): The Supreme Court held that even if the wife is living separately without a divorce, she can claim maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC.

  3. Shabana Bano v. Imran Khan (2010): The Supreme Court in this case held that a Muslim wife can claim maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC and simultaneously under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.


Conclusion

Section 125 of the CrPC is a vital tool in Indian law that helps protect women from destitution and homelessness. It ensures that dependent wives, children, and parents, who are unable to sustain themselves, are not left without resources. Despite certain limitations, it serves as an essential legal safeguard for women, providing a recourse for support in the face of neglect or refusal to maintain.

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