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Observing that a Hindu father has a legal and personal obligation to pay for his daughter’s marriage, the Kerala High Court said that he cannot discriminate between a lawful and unlawful child.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by a woman against an order passed by a Family Court. Initially filed before Palakkad Family Court, the petitioner had asked the court to direct the respondent who she claimed is her father to meet her marriage expenses. However, the respondent said that he was not married to the petitioner’s mother and thus not liable to pay for her marriage. The family court ultimately dismissed her petition stating that she is earning Rs 12,000 as rent from her two properties. In her fresh plea before the Kerala High Court, the petitioner argued that the family court was wrong in concluding that she is not entitled to claim marriage expenses from the respondent.
Quoting Section 20(1) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, the court said that a Hindu man is bound to maintain legitimate and illegitimate children during her or his lifetime. “It was noted that the respondent’s denial of having a marital relationship with the petitioner’s mother was immaterial, given that Section 20 talks of an obligation to maintain his daughter, whether legitimate or illegitimate. The respondent was found to be the father of the petitioner by his own eventual admission as well as a DNA test,” the court ruled.
Section 20(3) of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 also said that it is the obligation of a person to maintain his or her aged or infirm parent or a daughter who is unmarried extends in so far as the parent or the unmarried daughter, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself out of his or her own earnings or other property.
Stating that Rs 12,000 as rent is not sufficient, the court concluded, “A person does not live by bread alone. There are other basic necessities in life. One can just imagine what amount the petitioner or her mother could have saved after meeting the day to day expenses. The respondent has got no case that the petitioner or her mother is employed or that they have got any other source of income. In these circumstances, we have no hesitation to find that the order of the lower court rejecting the claim of the petitioner in toto is erroneous”.
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