Asks father to pay Rs.10,000 every month to the child from February 1, 2012

Coming to the rescue of a mentally challenged child, who was driven out of the house 13 years ago along with his mother, the Madras High Court has directed the father to pay Rs.10,000 every month to the child from February 1, 2012, till the disposal of two maintenance cases before the trial court. The payment will be an interim measure. The sum should be adjusted from the amount payable as per the order to be passed by the I Additional Family Court, Chennai.

Allowing two petitions by the woman and her son, Justice S. Vimala said as the liability to maintain the child was absolute and as he was mentally challenged, the woman’s husband should pay the sum. The boy attained majority in February last year.

The boy was suffering from Learning Disability with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (learning problems in specific areas with distractibility and overactivity) and his overall IQ was below the normal level of functioning as per a medical report. The two filed a petition before the Family Court here for maintenance. Following a court order, the husband deposited Rs.20,000 (towards the cost of education).

Challenging the order, the husband filed a revision and the High Court directed that the sum which was in court deposit, should be refunded to him, if his contentions were accepted by the trial court in the main case. The High Court directed the trial court to dispose of the main case within three months.

Under such circumstances, the woman made an endorsement in October 2005 that her petition seeking maintenance may be dismissed as withdrawn. Later, she filed another petition to withdraw the endorsement. That was dismissed in February 2006.

The woman and the son challenged this order in the High Court.

Another petition seeking maintenance for herself and her son was filed before the Family Court later. Following an agreement between her and her husband that he would pay maintenance of Rs.2,000 per month directly to the son, she agreed to withdraw the proceedings before the High Court and also that she would not press her claim for maintenance.

In April 2009, the court directed the man to pay Rs.2,000 per month to the child from May 1, 2009. The woman challenged this order also before the High Court.

Before the High Court, the woman contended that she had withdrawn the maintenance claim only on a false promise of settlement given by her husband. Her brother, who was supporting her financially, also died in 2008.

The husband said his wife (being a lawyer, and a law student at the time of filing the petition), had endorsed twice that she was not pressing her claim for maintenance.

In the common order on the revision petitions, Mrs. Justice Vimala said the trial court should have ordered interim maintenance especially when the relationship between the parties was an admitted fact or it should have given the final disposal at the earliest point of time giving priority to cases of maintenance. Nothing had been done. That enabled the husband to cause delay in the disposal of the case and ultimately drive his wife to making an endorsement that she was not pressing the maintenance claim.

“No doubt, everybody is bound to honour their own undertaking, but when the undertaking is out of coerced circumstances, that undertaking is not binding.”

Citing the legal position, Mrs. Justice Vimala said it was clear that maintenance by the wife and the son could not be allowed to be defeated by circumstances created by the husband himself. “The system cannot provide incentive to the wrong-doers.” She set aside the orders of the trial court. The trial court should dispose of the matter within one month.


Guidelines for trial courts September 8, 2013

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