The Madras High Court has laid down certain guidelines for trial courts dealing with cases of maintenance under Section 125 (Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents) Cr.P.C.

In a common order on two revision petitions relating to claim of maintenance by a woman and her child, Justice S. Vimala said courts could grant interim maintenance based upon the affidavit filed. The necessity of disposing it within 60 days from the date of issue of notice should also be taken care of. Whenever courts did not pass an order on interim maintenance, they should record reasons as to why it was not being done.

As the proceedings under the Cr.P.C. provision were quasi-civil in nature, courts should provide for oral examination of party at the first hearing of the case. If this was done, it would help the court to ascertain the real controversy between the parties. This oral examination could also be extended for ascertaining whether the dispute could be referred to settlement through alternative dispute resolution methods.

The possibility of settlement would be bright at the earliest point of time because there was a likelihood of further strain in the relationship due to the allegations that would be made in the counter affidavit.

The court should liberally use Section 165 of the Evidence Act (Judge’s power to put questions or order production) and should exhibit a proactive role.

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