The Supreme Court on September 16, 2019, in the case of Pratima Devi & Anr. v. Anand Prakash, has ruled that the Higher Courts should not stay an order of maintenance unless there are very special reasons.
The ruling was passed by a Division Bench comprising of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose.
In this case, a wife and minor child filed a petition for grant of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, before a Family Court. An ex parte order was passed by the Family Court granting maintenance of Rs.20,000. The husband filed an application for setting aside the ex parte order which was dismissed. Later, the High court, in a criminal revision petition filed by the husband, stayed the order, without assigning any reasons.
In appeal filed by the wife, the apex court disapproved this approach of the High court and said:
“We are constrained to observe that this order shows total non-application of mind on the part of the High court. This was a case where maintenance had been granted to a wife and to a minor son. The High Court without recording any reason whatsoever, has stayed the grant of maintenance both to the wife and to the minor son. This should not be done. A husband/father is duty bound to maintain his wife and child. Unless there are very special reasons, the higher Court should not normally stay such an order. In the present case no reason has been mentioned justifying the grant of the stay order.”
The court, therefore, set aside the impugned order and directed the payment of maintenance as awarded by the Family Court. However, the court made it clear that the High Court after hearing the parties may pass an appropriate reasoned order.