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RameshGajananRege
vs.
GauriRameshRege
UnionofIndia

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INTHEHIGHCOURTOFJUDICATUREATBOMBAY
CIVILAPPELATEJURISDICTION
WRITPETITIONNO.10312OF2014

...Petitioner
...Respondents

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ShriB.M.Patwardhani/bMr.SureshSabradforthe
petitioner
Nonefortherespondents

JUDGMENT:

By this petition under Article 226 of the

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CORAM:A.S.OKA,&
A.P.BHANGALE,JJ.
DATE:MARCH18,2015

ConstitutionofIndia,thepetitionerhaschallenged
the constitutional validity of subsection 3 of

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section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance


Act,1956(forshortthesaidAct).
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Few facts of the case are necessary to be

considered with a view to appreciate the factual


controversy.Thefirstrespondentisthedaughterof
thepresentpetitioner. Thefirstrespondentfiled
apetitionundersection20ofthesaidActbefore
the Family Court at Pune. When the petition was
filed in the year 2005, the age of the first
respondentwas16years. Aprayerwasmadeinthe
petitionfiledbythefirstrespondentforgrantof
maintenanceattherateofRs.50,000/permonthand

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forissuing adirectiontoprovidearesidenceto

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her. Thecontentionofthepetitioneristhatthe
firstrespondentisaBritishcitizenandsheisnot

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domiciledinIndia.Anapplicationwasmadebythe

petitionerforrejectionofthesaidpetitionfiled
bythefirstrespondent.Thesaidapplicationalong
with interim application in the said petition were
decidedbythelearnedJudgeoftheFamilyCourtby
order dated 9th August 2005. Thereafter, an

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application was made by the first respondent for


grant of educational expenses. An application was
madebythepetitionerforcancellationoforderof

interimmaintenancegrantedundertheorderdated9 th
August 2005. By the said order dated 9 th August
2005,theprayerofthepetitionerforrejectionof

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the petition filed by the first respondent was


rejected.Apartfromgrantinginjunctionagainstthe
petitioner, the learned Judge of the Family Court
directed the petitioner to pay interim alimony of

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Rs.10,000/tothefirstrespondent.
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Thesaidapplicationmadebythepetitionerfor

cancellation of the order of interim maintenance


dated 9th August 2005 was rejected by the learned
JudgeoftheFamilyCourtbyorderdated16 thOctober
2012. We must note here that there is no
substantive prayer made in this petition for
challenging the orders passed by the Family Court.
Thesubstantiveprayersareprayers(a)and(b).
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The submission of the learned counsel for the

petitioneristhatsubsection(3)ofsection20of

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thesaidActisviolativeofthefundamentalrights

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of the petitioner guaranteed under Articles 14 and


15oftheConstitutionofIndia.Hissubmissionis

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thatasfarasthesubsection(2)ofsection20of

thesaidActisconcerned,itmakesnodistinction
betweenamaleorafemalechild.Hissubmissionis
that under subsection (3) of section 20, the law
provides that it is the obligation of a person to
maintainhisdaughterwhoisunmarriedwhensheis

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unable to maintain herself. The learned counsel


submitted that there is no reason to discriminate
betweenasonandadaughter. Heurgedthatifa

fatherisundernoobligationtomaintainunmarried
sonafterheattainsmajority,thereisnoreasonto
grantsuchabenefittotheunmarrieddaughter.His

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submissionisthatthereisnojustifiablereasonto
protectonlyadaughter. He,therefore,urgedthat
theprovisionofsubsection(3)isarbitraryandis
violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of

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India. He urged that the said provision is also


violative of Article 15 which prohibits
discriminationonthegroundofsex.Heurgedthat
itisunjusttoputresponsibilityontheparentsto
maintain an unmarried daughter even after she
attains majority as the daughter may choose to
remainunmarriedforever.
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Heurgedthatthefirstrespondentdaughteris

notacitizenofIndiaandsheisnotdomiciledin
India. He,therefore,submittedthatthesaidAct
isnotapplicabletothefirstrespondent.Heurged
thatthefirstrespondentisveryaffluent.

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Wedealwiththefirstsubmissioninsupportof

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plea that subsection (3) of section 20 is

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unconstitutional. Section20ofthesaidActreads
thus:

(3) The obligation of a person to maintain


his or her aged or infirm parent or a
daughterwhoisunmarriedextendsinsofar

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astheparentortheunmarrieddaughter,as
the case may be, is unable to maintain
himself or herself out of his or her own

earningsorotherproperty.

Subsections(1)and(2)ofsection20applyto

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achildwhethermaleorfemale.Obligationscreated
by subsections (1) and (2) of section 20 to
maintainareinrelationtothesonsordaughtersso
long as they do not attain majority. Subsection

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(3) of section 20 is applicable to an unmarried


daughter who may have attained majority. Sub
section (3) operates independently of subsection
(2).Itseekstoprotectanunmarrieddaughtereven
after she attains majority. A person is under an
obligation to maintain his or her daughter who is
unmarried and who is unable to maintain herself.
The class of unmarried sons who have attained
majority is completely different from the class of
unmarried daughters who have attained majority.
The reason being the peculiar position of a
daughter and especially an unmarried daughter in
Hindu society. Therefore, the argument that two

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equalsarebeingtreatedasunequalsisnotatall

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acceptable and therefore, Article 14 will have no

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application.

For the same reason, Article 15 will have no

application. Moreover clause (3) of Article 15


specificallyprovidesthatnothingintheArticle15
shall prevent the State from making any special
provision for women and children. Subsection (3)

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of section 20 is a special provision within the


meaning of clause (3) of Article 15. As stated
earlier, the class of unmarried major sons is

differentfromtheclassofunmarriedmajordaughter
and, therefore, the discrimination which is
prohibitedunderArticle15isnotatallattracted.

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Therefore,challengetotheconstitutionalvalidity
mustfail.
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As far as applicability of the said Act is

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concerned,thesameappliestoallpersonsnamedin
section2. Itappliestoanychild,legitimateor
illegitimate, both of whose parents are Hindu,
Budhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion. The
applicabilityofthesaidActdoesnotdependupon
the nationality of the child or domicile of the
child.Ifboththeparentsofthechildareeither
HinduorBuddhistorJainaorSikhbyreligion,the
said Act becomes applicable to such children.
Moreover, as per subsection (1) of section 20 of
thesaidAct,theobligationtomaintainhisother
childrenisofa personwhoisHindubyreligion.
Therefore,applicabilityoftheActdoesnotdepend

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onthenationalityordomicileofthechild.Weare

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not dealing with a parent who is not domiciled in


India.Whethersection20willapplytoaparentwho

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isnotdomiciledinIndiaorwhoisnotacitizenof
Indiaisanaltogetherseparateissue.
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The question of applicability of the said Act

is different from the territorial jurisdiction of


the Court to entertain the proceedings under the

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saidAct.

Therefore, we find no merit in both the

contentionsraisedbythepetitioner. Thepetition
deservestoberejected. However,Wehavemadeno
adjudication on the merits of the pending

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proceedings.
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WritPetitionisrejected.

(A.P.BHANGALE,J.)

(A.S.OKA,J.)

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