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Both parents liable for child maintenance, not solely the father’s responsibility: High Court

In an important ruling, Uttarakhand High Court observed that both parents are responsible for the maintenance of a child, overturning the traditional notion that only fathers held this obligation. As per a TOI report, this significant judgment draws upon the recent amendment to Section 125 of the CrPC, which governs maintenance for wives, children, and parents, and it interprets the term “person” to encompass both genders.

“The court has interpreted the true legislative intent behind the purpose of using the word ‘person’ in Section 125, Senior advocate Kartikey Hari Gupta said.” He further added, “In my opinion, this is a first-of-its-kind judgment in the country.”

The case revolves around a petition brought forth by Anshu Gupta, challenging a 2013 family court directive that mandated her to provide Rs 2,000 per month as maintenance for her son. Gupta, employed as a government teacher, had entered into matrimony with Nathu Lal in 1999. After bearing a son, their marriage ended in 2006 due to irreconcilable differences, as explained by Vivek Rastogi, a member of Gupta’s legal team.

Nathu Lal, citing financial limitations, sought maintenance, asserting his incapacity to support their child’s education, upbringing, and well-being. Consequently, the family court ordered Gupta, who was earning a monthly salary of Rs 27,000 at the time, to pay Rs 2,000 per month for her son’s maintenance.

However, Gupta argued that after her separation from Nathu Lal, she remarried Babu Lal and had another son. Following Babu Lal’s demise in an accident, she became responsible for her son and Babu Lal’s parents.

Gupta’s legal representative contested the family court’s verdict on the grounds that Section 125 of the CrPC imposed maintenance duties exclusively on fathers, not mothers. In response, Nathu Lal’s counsel contended that the term “person” within the CrPC encompasses both genders and should not be limited to “father.”The court observed that the recent amendment to Section 125 of the CrPC explicitly includes both males and females in the definition of “person.” It emphasized that “a parent, regardless of gender, possessing adequate means yet neglecting or refusing to provide for their minor child, whether legitimate or not, is liable for child maintenance.”Considering Gupta’s stable occupation as a government teacher, with a monthly salary of around Rs 1 lakh, the court upheld the family court’s 2013 verdict. It affirmed that the judgment was devoid of any illegality or impropriety, in alignment with the law’s new interpretation.

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