Maintenance of Wife, Children and Parents



Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is a crucial provision in Indian law that aims to prevent destitution and ensure social justice. The legislation grants courts the authority to mandate financial support for wives, children, and parents who lack the means to sustain themselves. This section serves as a significant legal recourse for individuals, especially women and children, facing financial hardship due to abandonment or neglect by the primary breadwinner of the family. Prioritizing the financial support of his wife, children, parents, and any dependent family members who are incapable of self-sufficiency is the foremost concern for a man. The CrPC values indicate that individuals have a moral obligation to fulfil their responsibilities towards their parents, children, partner, and community.

Evidently, the individual possesses a legal and contractual responsibility in this situation. Section 125 of crpc pertains to the provision of financial support for parents, children, and spouses. Individuals who possess the ability to support themselves are obligated to provide for the well-being of their parents, children, or significant other. The application of Section 125 against the husband requires a reasonable basis for suspicion. The husband must possess sufficient financial resources to provide for the wife’s maintenance after their divorce. 

If the couple desires to separate in a friendly manner, the wife will not be eligible for any form of financial support. The court must also ascertain the wife’s financial incapacity to support herself following the divorce. The legislation allows for interim alimony, enabling the magistrate to mandate that the husband make monthly payments to the wife while the application is pending in court. 

The Supreme Court asserts that Section 125 of the CRPC is designed to protect the rights of women and children, there by promoting social justice. Art. 39 of the Indian constitution affirm the court’s determination that it aligns with the broad interpretation of Art. 15 (3). 

Essential condition for seeking maintenance 

  1. Sufficient to maintain: The person from whom maintenance is being sought must possess the resources to provide support to the individuals seeking maintenance.
  2. Refuse to maintain: The claim made by the individual from whom maintenance is sought must be rejected.
  3. Person claiming the maintenance must not able to maintain himself/herself.

Maintenance of Wife 

The term “Wife” is defined in Section 125 of the CrPC is broadly interpreted to ensure protection and maintenance for women who are, or have been legally wedded. The provision requires the proof of a legal marriage in case of any disputes and relies on personal laws to define the validity of such unions. This approach ensures that the divorced women who have not remarried are also entitled to claim maintenance which safeguards their financial well-being.

Eligibility of wife to claim maintenance 

  1. She must not be married to other person after the divorce.
  2. In case of illegal marriage or bigamy, she cannot claim the maintenance under section 125 of CRPC.
  3.  The wife is obligated to reside with her husband unless she has a valid reason to decline.
  4.  She must not be capable to maintain herself.
  5. Wife must be living separately without mutual consent.

Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat(2005), in this case it was determined that Section 125 of the CrPC was enacted in the interest of the wife, and that anyone seeking maintenance from sub-section (l)(a) of Section 125 must prove that she is the legally wedded wife of the person.

As per Section 125(1)(a) of the CrPC, a first-class Magistrate is empowered to direct an individual who has the financial resources but fails or refuses to provide financial support to his wife, who is unable to sustain herself, to pay a monthly maintenance allowance as assessed by the Magistrate.

Sunita Kachwaha Vs. Anil Kachwaha (2015), in this case it was established that the wife’s earning capacity alone cannot be used as a reason to deny her claim for maintenance under section 125 (CrPC).

According to the law, the wife bears the primary responsibility for demonstrating that her husband’s means are sufficient. In this case, the appellant has provided evidence that the respondent/wife was earning some income. This is insufficient to rule out the application of Section 125 and it must be demonstrated that the respondent/wife could not support herself with the amount she earned.

Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, (1985), in this case it was established that Muslim husband who has the financial resources must provide financial support to his divorced wife who is unable to sustain herself. She is eligible for maintenance even if she chooses not to remain with her husband, as he has entered into another marriage within the limits of the Quran’s four-wives.

The Supreme Court has determined that a Muslim divorced woman who lacks the means to sustain herself is eligible to receive financial support from her ex-spouse until she enters into a new marriage.

Wives not entitled for the allowance from husband if they:

  1. She lives in adultery, or
  2.  She declines to cohabit with her spouse without adequate justification.
  3. They are living separately with mutual consent.

Maintenance Of Children and Parents

Under Section 125(1) (b), any person with sufficient means is obligated to provide maintenance for their legitimate or illegitimate minor child, irrespective of the child’s marital status, if the child is unable to support themselves. This provision ensures that minors are not left destitute due to neglect or refusal of support from their parents. Additionally, Section 125(1)(c) extends this obligation to adult children who are unable to maintain themselves due to physical or mental abnormalities or injuries. This section excludes married daughters, recognizing that the responsibility of support typically shifts post-marriage. 

Both provisions empower a magistrate to order the person with sufficient means to provide the necessary financial support, emphasizing the state’s commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals from neglect and ensuring their well-being

Sec.3 of the Indian Majority Act of 1875 defines a “minor” as someone who, having not yet turned eighteen or is not of legal age. Should a young single female, independent of legal standing, be entitled to child maintenance from her father? The magistrate has to decide whether her husband can sufficiently support her even if she is married so she may keep getting maintenance.

The Shahbuddin v. State of UP case upholds that a little girl who grows up while her support application is under review is entitled to maintenance until she reaches adulthood.

Smt.Usha v. Mahendra Pal Singh (2011) in this case it was observed that Section 125 CrPC says that a major unmarried daughter is not entitled for support/maintenance. 

Baleshwar Mandal Vs. Anup Mandal, 2006, in this case it was determined that a child conceived as a consequence of rape has the right to receive financial support from the perpetrator of the rape. Maintenance provided for in Section 125 of the CRPC is not restricted to spouse or children; it is also available to parents on after request.

Section 125 permits parents unable to support themselves to seek maintenance from their children or relatives legally obligated to care for them. The parent must show inability to support themselves due to reasons like old age or illness when applying to a Magistrate under this section.

In India, cultural norms expect children to providemaintenance and this does notexclude the daughters, to support their parents. Under Section 125 of the CrPC, a stepmother with no child of her own can seek maintenance from her stepson if she is a widow or if her husband is unable to support her. However, she is not eligible for maintenance from her stepson if she has natural-born children and her husband is capable of supporting her. This provision ensures vulnerable stepmothers receive support while balancing family responsibilities.

Interim maintenance 

According to the second condition of Section 125(1) of the CrPC, an individual is obligated to pay a monthly financial support for temporary maintenance to their wife, child, father, or mother, as well as cover the reasonable expenses of the legal process while the case is ongoing. This interim maintenance is meant to ensure that the dependent individuals are supported financially during the legal process. The Magistrate has the authority to direct the payment of these sums, and the person responsible must comply with these directives regularly, as instructed. 

Additionally, the CrPC specifies that applications for monthly interim maintenance and related proceeding expenditures should be resolved expediently, ideally within sixty days from the date the notice of the application is served to the respondent. This provision ensures that interim relief is provided promptly, thereby addressing immediate financial needs and reducing the risk of destitution for those awaiting the final resolution of their maintenance claims.


The maintenance policies are intended to prevent famine, criminality, and vagrancy, rather than to punish individuals. This section has been formulated with the concept of social justice and achieving the social aim of welfare of all.  It endeavours to motivate the competent to provide assistance to those who are incapable of self-support and have a justifiable moral entitlement to do so. Grants allocated for maintenance contribute to the assessment of social justice. There must be a time period for the deciding the case as not to trouble the weaker side. The burden of proof to declare the capability of the husband must be fall on court, not on the wife, parents or children. However, there should not be any misuse of this provision. 


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  3. Section 125 CrPC Archives, SCC Times (June 7, 2024),
  4. [Section 125 CrPC] Able bodied husband who can support himself is obligated to support his wife: Gauhati High Court, SCC Times (June 7, 2024),
  5. Maintenance Under: Section 125-128,
  6. (Oct. 20, 2017),

Author: Shashwat Shukla, 2nd-year law student Maharashtra National Law University Aurangabad

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