Legal Advice

Stepmother is entitled for maintenance under section 125 crpc

Question: I am a destitute lady; my husband died in the year 2000. My stepson is refusing to maintain me, and I have no child. Can I claim maintenance from my stepson?

Advise

If the mother is living in destitution, she is entitled to maintenance under Section 125(1)(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (crpc). She can claim maintenance from her son who has sufficient means to maintain her. The court can fix a monthly allowance as an alimony upon the proof of neglect or refusal of son to maintain his mother.

Whether stepmother can claim maintenance from her stepson

Section 125(1)(d) relates to maintenance of real mother. Hence, a doubt naturally rumbles in mind whether stepmother can invoke section 125 against her stepson? The word “mother” as used in Section 125 crpc, does not include stepmother. The plain reading of section 125 infers that only the real mother can claim alimony from her son.

But the Supreme Court, in catena of judgments, has held that section 125 is a social and benevolent legislation. This section has a tremendous societal impact; hence, it needs very liberal interpretation. The Supreme Court further opined that a childless stepmother should not be left on the mercy of God, when her stepson has good financial resources.

In Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujrat (1996) 4 SCC 479; the Supreme Court has held that however section 125 is silent about the right to maintenance of stepmother, but this section needs to be interpreted liberally. The court further held that a childless stepmother is entitled to maintenance from her stepson under section 125 crpc.

Move an application under section 125 crpc

It is settled law that a childless stepmother is entitled for maintenance from her stepson if she cannot maintain herself out of her own sources. You have to prima facie prove yourself a destitute lady. If you have a source of income then you cannot get maintenance under Section 125 crpc.

You should file an application before the first class Magistrate under section 125 CrPC. There is no period of limitation for claiming alimony. Moreover, during the pendency of your case you can also claim interim maintenance.

Grounds for invoking Section 125 crpc

As per the facts and circumstances of your case these facts are necessarily be proved while filing the application under Section 125 crpc.

  • I am a childless lady
  • Presently, I’m living in destitution
  • My stepson has sufficient means to maintain me
  • My stepson is neglecting or refusing to maintain me
  • I have no source of income to maintain myself

Alimony includes food, lodging, health care and supply of things manifested as essential for living. The amount of maintenance shall be decided on the basis of your basic need and financial capacity of your stepson. Section 125 crpc does not lay minimum and maximum cap on the amount of alimony.

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow