New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that maintenance in all matrimonial cases will be awarded from the date of filing the application. The apex court laid down guidelines for interim compensation and quantum of maintenance in matrimonial cases and observed these guidelines will ensure uniformity and consistency in practice adopted by different courts.
A bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and R Subhash Reddy said, to overcome the issue of overlapping jurisdiction and avoid conflicting orders being passed in different proceedings, it has become necessary to issue directions, so that there is uniformity in the practice throughout the country.
The top court issued guidelines on various aspects: issue of overlapping jurisdiction, payment of interim maintenance, criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, date from which maintenance is to be awarded and enforcement / execution of orders of maintenance.
On payment of interim maintenance, the top court said: "The Affidavit of Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities annexed as Enclosures I, II and III of this judgment, as may be applicable, shall be filed by both parties in all maintenance proceedings, including pending proceedings before the concerned Family Court / District Court / Magistrates Court, as the case may be, throughout the country."
The top court emphasised that it is made mandatory for the applicant to disclose the previous proceeding and the orders passed therein, in the subsequent proceeding. The top court added, "We make it clear that maintenance in all cases will be awarded from the date of filing the application for maintenance." The court also made it mandatory to file affidavit, by both the parties, of disclosure of Assets and Liabilities.
The bench insisted that where successive claims for maintenance are made by a party under different statutes, the court would consider an adjustment or setoff, of the amount awarded in the previous proceedings, while determining whether any further amount is to be awarded in the subsequent proceeding.
The verdict has come in a matrimonial case from Maharashtra in which the question of maintenance of a wife and son under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was raised. The top court had earlier appointed senior advocates Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Anitha Shenoy as amicus curiae to assist it in framing guidelines on payment of interim maintenance
"A copy of this judgment be communicated by the Secretary General of this Court, to the Registrars of all High Courts, who would in turn circulate it to all the District Courts in the States. It shall be displayed on the website of all District Courts/ Family Courts / Courts of Judicial Magistrates for awareness and implementation," the bench said.