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A Project on


Project Submitted to
Mr. Manoj Kumar
(Faculty of Cr.P.C)

Project Submitted by
Gurpreet Kaur Chawla
(Roll No- 47), Sem-VII

Project Submitted on




At the outset, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and thank my teacher, Mr.
Manoj Kumar, for putting his trust in me and giving me a project topic such as this and for
having the faith in me to deliver. Thank you Sir, for giving me an opportunity and help me
My gratitude also goes out to the staff and administration of HNLU for the infrastructure
in the form of our library and IT Lab that was a source of great help for the completion of
this project.

Gurpreet Kaur Chawla

(Semester- VII)


1. Acknowledgments
2. Abbreviations & Acronyms


3. List of cases
4. Objectives
5. Research Methodology
6. Review of Literature
7. Hypothesis
8. Introduction
9.1. Maintenance of Widows under


Hindu Law
9.2. Maintenance of Widows under 11
Muslim Law
9.3. Maintenance of Widows under 12
Christian Law
9.4. Maintenance of Widows under Parsi 12
9.5. Maintenance of Widows under Code 13
of Criminal Procedure, 1973
9.6. Maintenance of Widows under 17
International Conventions
10. Conclusion


11. Bibliography



1. AIR

All India Reporter

3. Cr.P.C.

Criminal Procedure Code


4. Cr L J

Criminal Law Journal


Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act

6. HC

High Court

7. SC

Supreme Court

8. SCC

Supreme Court Cases

9. Art.


10. Ors.


11. P.


12. S.


13. U/s.

Under Section

14. Vs.


15. IA

Indian Appeals

16. PLR

Punjab Law Reporter

17. AP

Andhra Pradesh

18. DB

Division Bench

1. Aga Mohamed Jaffar Bindaneen V. Koolsum Beebee, (1897) 24 IA, 196
2. Balwan Singh vs. Smt. Brahmo, (2008) 151 PLR 539

3. Balwant kaur vs. Chanan Singh, 2000 AIR SC 1908

4. Kirtikant D. Vadodaria vs State Of Gujarat, (1996) 4 SCC 479
5. Motahhai v. Dosibai, P. J. for 1877
6. Omana Chetan vs. S.S. Rangegowda and ors., ILR 2008 Karnataka 2240
7. Ou vs. C, 6th March 2009
8. Pitei Bewa v. Larimidhi Jena, 1985 Cr LJ 1124 (Ori)
9. Rewal v. Kamalabai, 1986 Cr LJ 282 (Mp)
10. Sadhu Singh vs. Gurudwara Sahib Narike, AIR 2006 SC 3282
11. S.V. Parthasaratliy Battachariar and others v. S. Rajeswari and others, 3rd March 2009
12. Ved Prakash vs. Leena Kahar, 1996 Cri L J 2703
13. Kota Varaprasada Rao vs. Kota China Venkaiah, AIR 1992 AP 1(DB)
14. Kuldip Kaur vs. Surinder Singh, AIR 1989 SC 232

The Objectives in carrying out this project report are:
1. To analyse the conditions of widows in India
2. To determine the laws relating to the maintenance of widows under different personal

3. To study the provisions of Criminal code on regard with the maintenance of widows for
speedy justice.
4. To determine the International Conventions laid down to curb the plight of widows.

The research methodology for the current research has been non-doctrinal with an
extensive use of secondary sources of data being put to use.

The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 provides the maintenance of
widowed daughter in law under S. 19 of the Act. This Act explicitly confers a right on a
widowed daughter in-law to claim maintenance from her father-in-law irrespective of
whether they are governed by Mitakshara or the Dayabhag school of Hindu law. Also,
section 21 of the Act when read with Section 22 comprehends that widow of the deceased
(dependants) needs to be maintained by the heir of the deceaseds property. It is a
comprehensive law, which includes the peripheral right of widows to be maintained.
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 includes the right of maintenance of wives, children
and parents under criminal law for speedy justice to women (widows), destitutes and
vagrants who are not in a condition to maintain them. It also contemplates the amount of
maintenance to be provided to the people enlisted above. Even if a person is not able to
provide maintenance to this wives, children or Parents as required under this code, he will
not be charged of any criminal sanctions.
Law of maintenance by Shashi Kiran: This article provides a very detailed analysis on
law of maintenance in India under every personal laws and Cr.P.C (Indian Laws). It
provides a comprehensive study on Alimony, maintenance pendente lite, Disabilities
depriving maintenance, Persons entitled to maintenance-Right of Hindu Widow,
Determination of Income, Quantam of Maintenance, Enforcement of order, Muslim Law
on maintenance, Scope of Jurisdictions. In the above article, my periphery of research was
restricted to laws of maintenance of widows only.


The research hypothesis of my project report is that

All the laws prevalent in India in relation to right to maintenance of widows have not
been able to achieve its goal in true sense.


The question of maintenance of widowed women had not arisen in ancient India, until the
prohibition on remarriage of widowed women. This predicament led to the realization of a
widows right to be maintained and eventually many reformers/schools advocated different
ideas on property rights of widows. According to Dayabhaga rule, a widow could succeed
to her husband's share on his death, provided he left no male heir 1. While, the Mitakshara
School granted her only a maintenance allowance 2. The recognition of right to
maintenance of widows has been a slow process. However, it has stood the tides of time.
Many laws have been made time and again to resurrect the right of widows in India. This
was done for the economic empowerment of widows and to keep-up with the principle of
Social Justice as envisaged under art.14, art.15 of the Indian Constitution and various
international conventions3. Though, art. 44 of the Indian Constitution renders Uniform
Civil Code, the property rights of widows still can be found in myriad legislations formed
under different personal laws. This is because our legislators have followed the policy of
non-interference with the personal laws for: a) they have taken deep roots in the
sentiments of different communities and b) vote bank politics. However, in several cases
Indian Courts have used uniform civil code to proclaim fairness and equality, as against
widely worn patriarchal personal laws.
Keeping it aside, this project deals with the different personal laws established to meet the
widows right to maintenance. In India, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains are governed
by one code, while Christians are governed by another code and the Muslims have not
codified their property rights, neither the Shias nor the Sunnis 4. In addition to that, it also
focuses on various precedents, (Supreme Court Judgments) which have had an impact on
the womens right to maintenance. Also, it deals with the working of contemporary laws
prevalent in India and some international conventions on the lines of propagating rights of

2 Ibid.
3 Like CEDAW,
4 Property Rights of Indian Women, pdf


I. Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956:
Section 19 of the Act does not laydown a personal obligation upon the father-in-law to
maintain his sons widow. It lays down only a moral obligation upon the father-in-law to
maintain his daughter-in-law, but after the death of the father-in-law, whosoever inherits
his self acquired property, is legally bound to maintain the daughter-in-law of such
deceased person5.
According to S19, any Hindu whether her marriage took place either before the
commencement of the present Act or thereafter, on the death of her husband, would be
entitled to maintenance from her father-in-law to the extent and so long as she is unable to
maintain herself out of her own earnings or she is unable to obtain maintenance from the
estate of her husband or from the estate of her father or mother or sons or daughters or if
father-in-law has no coparcenary property in his possession. In S.V. Parthasaratliy
Battachariar and others v. S. Rajeswari and others6, Madras High Court observed that
father-in-law is liable to pay maintenance to widowed daughter-in-law if husband of
widow is not known for more than seven years and deemed to have been died.
However, there is no provision for maintenance of grandson by the paternal grandfather.
But where considering the commitment of a widow to maintain her children and minors
being sharers in joint family properties not deriving any income, paternal grandparents
being in possession of joint family property are liable for maintenance of minor grandsons
with widowed daughter-in-law.
Section 22 states that where a dependent has not obtained, by testamentary or intestate
succession, any share in the estate of a Hindu dying after the commencement of this Act,
then, the heirs of a deceased Hindu are bound to maintain the dependents of the deceased
out of the estate inherited by them from the deceased 7. And Section 21 of the Act includes
various dependents having widow of the deceased (until she re-marries), widowed
daughter (if she is not getting enough maintenance from her husband's, children's, or father
in law's estate) and widow of predeceased son, or widow of predeceased son's son, so long
as she does not remarry and if the widow is not getting enough maintenance from her
5 Rights of Widowed daughter-in-law to claim maintenance under Hindu Law
6 3rd March 2009
7 Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956

husband's, children's or her father or mother's estate in the case of son's widow 8. In a case9,
SC held that a father is bound to maintain her destitute daughter u/s 22(2) of the HAMA,
1956 if the father-in-law or any person who is intestate of deceased is unable to maintain
Speaking about widows right to maintenance under property in which her husband inheres
the interest, the SC in Sadhu Singh vs. Gurudwara Sahib Narike 10 observed that- a widow
has a right to maintenance out of her deceased husbands property. Heirs of the deceased
are obliged to maintain the widow out of the property of the deceased inherited by them.
Widow can also enforce her right to receive maintenance even against the transferee of her
deceased husbands property. However, widow has no charge for maintenance on the
separate property of her husband, in the absence of any decree or instrument providing for
A destitute widowed daughter has a right of maintenance against her brothers after the
death of her father when she could not get sufficient provision from her deceased
husbands family for her maintenance. The case law mostly relates to matters pertaining to
the rights of the daughter-in-law against her father-in-law and his estate. The reason, still,
for their reference is the unusual paucity of case-law governing the rights of daughter
against her father, brothers, etc. for her maintenance. This scantiness of case law is more
due to the devotional character and spiritual belief of the Hindu population and also due to
the fact that the law-abiding nature of the Hindus have precluded brothers from disputing
the right of maintenance of their widowed sister. More over, the analogy in the case-law
with reference to the daughter-in-law can be and in fact has been also extended to the
destitute widowed daughter11.

9 Balwant kaur vs. Chanan Singh, 2000 AIR SC 1908
10 AIR 2006 SC 3282
11 Kota Varaprasada Rao vs. Kota China Venkaiah, AIR 1992 AP 1(DB)


The wife's right of maintenance ceases on the death of her husband. Muslim law never
recognized the status of widow-hood.
In case of iddat on the death of the husband, the wife is not entitled to maintenance unless
she is pregnant at the time of death of the husband and she is entitled to maintenance till
her pregnancy is over12. However, the Hanafi law denies her maintenance even in such
deserving condition13. It was held in Aga Mohamed Jaffar Bindaneen V. Koolsum
estateinadditiontowhatshetakesbyinheritanceorbywill.Inarecentjudgment 15,
Also, it needs to be noted here that, a mulimwidowed daughterinlaw can seek her
In Hedaya, the following verse of the Koran, namely ---- The maintenance of woman
who suckles an infant rests on him to whom the infant is born, is mentioned and from
which it has been inferred that the maintenance an infant child is rest upon the father,
because, as maintenance is decreed to the nurse on account of her sustaining the child with
her milk, it follows that the same is due to the child himself a fortiori17.
12 Subhajit Nath Law of Maintenance in India under Personal Laws An Analysis (taken from:
13 Charles Hamilton, The Hedaya, or Guide: A Comentary on the Muslim Law, 2nd Edition (London
1870), at p. 407
14 (1897) 24 IA, 196
15 Rosy Sequeira, Muslim Widow can go to Family Court: Bombay High Court, (taken from
16 Section 370 of the Mahomedan Law

17 Supra note 12 at p. 146


Thus, a father is bound to maintain his widowed daughter 18, even if she has remained in
custody of her mother before her marriage. If the father is poor or infirm then the mother is
bound to maintain the children (including widowed daughter). And failing her it is the duty

the parental grandfather19. Under Muslim Personal Law, a father does not have any onus to
maintain his illegitimate children, including his widowed illegitimate daughter.


The State is continuing its neglect towards the Christian women who are still being
governed by the law of Israel, religious precepts and customary practices that are
repugnant to the constitutional mandate of non-discrimination and the principles of nondiscrimination enunciated by CEDAW. It can be rightly added that Christian women are
suffering from double discrimination, the discrimination on the basis of religion and
discrimination on the basis of sex20.
The Constitution of India recognizes equality of status and in fact provides for certain
provisions under the chapter on fundamental rights more favourable to women but in
actual practice they are observed more in breach than in compliance. This is absolutely
true in the case of Christian women21.
Christian Personal Law nowhere states the right to maintenance of widows. Under Indian
Succession Act, 1925, a widow is only entitled to get 1/3 rd share on the deceased husbands

18 A.A.A. Fyzee, Outlines of Mohammedan Law, (3rd edition, 1964), at p.214

19 D.F. Mulla, Principles vof Mohammedan Law, 18th edition (Mumbai, 1977), at p. 383
20 O George, Women Property Rights: A comparative study of Hindu, Christian and Muslim(taken from: 4.pdf)
21 Js.Rajendra Babu, Gender Justice, Indian perspective145 AIR (2007).



A parsi widow has a right to claim maintenance by her husbands heir during her life time
with a suitable abode22. Provided, that such maintenance is valid for her life time until she
gets re-married. If the widow re-marries then such an onus is not on the legal heir to
maintain her for her lifetime.


S.125 of Cr.P.C, 1973 for maintenance of wives, children and parents.
If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain(a) his wife, unable to maintain herself, or
(b) his legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not, unable to maintain
itself, or
(c) his legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained
majority, where such child is by reason of any physical or mental abnormality or injury
unable to maintain itself, or
(d) his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself,
then the Court in such cases may order such person to make monthly allowance for
maintenance to the wife, child or parents23.
Section 125 gives a statutory recognition to the moral, legal and fundamental duty of a
man to maintain his wife, children and aged parents. Although this section also benefits a
22 Motahhai v. Dosibai, P. J. for 1877. at p. 106
23 Section 125 of Code of Criminal procedure (Cr.P.C), 1908

distressed father, the main thrust of this section to assist women and children. Article 15(3)
of the Indian constitution envisaged that the state can make special provision for woman
and children. Section 125 is also along the lines of Art.39 of the Indian Constitution that
states that the State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that all citizens both men and
women have equal access to means of livelihood and children and youths are given
facilities opportunities in conditions of freedom and dignity24.
Under this section, on the account of being widow (as concerned), maintenance can be
granted to widowed mother, widowed step-mother and widowed daughter (legitimate). If
section 488 of Cr.P.C is read with the aforementioned section, i.e., S. 125 of the Code then
it is found that even illegitimate widowed daughter is eligible to seek maintenance from
her father.

Cases on Maintenance of Widowed MotherIt is the duty of a husband to maintain his wife but if he dies then, the son having means to
do so, is bound to maintain his widowed mother. Well, in any circumstance, it is a moral
duty of a son to maintain his mother, whether her husband has died or not.
According to the Orissa High Court held in Pitei Bewa v. Larimidhi Jena25, that stepmother would be included within the word mother. The Allahabad High Court has
supported this view. And in Rewal v. Kamalabai26, it was held and the High Court of
Andhra has supported the interpretation that mother includes adoptive mother and she
has the right to claim maintenance against the adoptive son.
In Balwan Singh vs. Smt. Brahmo27, the Punjab-Haryana High Court held that- a stepmother in terms of the judgment of the Supreme Court can maintain a petition in the light
of the larger object of Section 125 but she has to prove her helplessness in the matter. The
Supreme Court in Kirtikant D. Vadodaria vs State Of Gujarat28, has noticed that
liberal construction has to be given to achieve the intention of the legislature and ruled that
24 Art. 39 of the Indian Constitution
25 1985 Cr LJ 1124 (Ori)
26 1986 Cr LJ 282 (Mp)
27 (2008) 151 PLR 539
28 (1996) 4 SCC 479

a childless step-mother can claim maintenance from her step-sons provided she is widow
of her husband, and if living, is also incapable of supporting and maintaining her.
In addition to this, it was observed that, While dealing with the ambit and scope of the
provisions contained in Section 125 of the Code, it has to be borne in mind that the
dominant and primary object is to give social justice to the women, children and infirm
parents etc. and to prevent destitution and vagrancy by compelling those who can support
those who are unable to support themselves but have a moral claim for support. The
provision of Section 125 provides a speedy remedy to those women, child and destitute
parents who are in distress. The provisions in Section 125 are intended to achieve this
special purpose. Having regard to this social object the provisions of Section 125 of the
code have to be given a liberal construction to fulfill and achieve this intention of the
Legislature. Consequently, to achieve this objective, in our opinion, a childless stepmother
may claim maintenance from the stepson provided she is a widow of her husband, if living
is also incapable of supporting and maintaining her. The obligation of the son to maintain
his father, who is unable to maintain himself, is unquestionable. When she claims
maintenance from her natural born children, she does so in her status as their 'mother'.
Such an interpretation would be in accord with the explanation attached to Section 20 of
the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 because to exclude altogether the
Personal Law applicable to the parties from consideration in matters of maintenance under
Section 125 of the Code may not be wholly justified. However, no intention of Legislature
can be read in Section 125 of the Code that even though a mother has her real and natural
born son or sons and a husband capable of maintaining her, she could still proceed against
her step-son to claim maintenance. Since, in this case we are not concerned with, we
express no opinion, on the question of liability, if any, of the step-son to maintain the stepmother, out of the inherited family estate by the step-son and leave that question to be
decided in an appropriate case. Our discussion is confined to the obligation under Section
125 Cr.P.C. only29.
Even in one case30, a widow mother-in-law had claimed maintenance against her widowed
daughter-in-law under S.125 of Cr.P.C. Even though, such provision is nowhere provided
in the code. This was done to establish that the code is a beneficial legislation meant to
help the destitute and needy.
29 Supra 22
30 Ou vs. C, 6th March 2009

Cases on maintenance of widowed DaughterAccording to S. 125 of Cr.P.C, the term daughter includes a minor and an unmarried
daughter. Thus, the section refers that a father is liable to maintain his daughter who is one
of the above two, i.e., a) A minor and b) unmarried. But in a case, a local family court has
asked the father of a widowed daughter to pay her maintenance of Rs. 4,000 per month. In
the above case31, Maina Kangre's mother had died long back and her father Babarao
Chambhare had remarried in 1987. Maina had been subjected to various tortures by her
stepmother, stepbrother and stepsister. Maina got married to Dhanraj Kangre in 2003,
unfortunately Dhanraj died of electrocution some years ago. Thus, Maina was left helpless
and found it difficult to carry on with life with her children. She asked her father and
brother for help, but they straightway refused to extend any cooperation. Her counsel
Aakash Meshram argued that Maina was helpless and hard put to run her family due to
poverty. So she approached the family court for justice under section 125 of Criminal
Procedure Code, which facilitates payment of maintenance to members of the family if
they are helpless. And the Court directed her father to maintain her under s. 125 of Cr.P.C,
Cases on Maintenance of Widowed daughter-in-lawFrom a plain reading of provisions of Section 125 Cr.P.C., it is clear to the court that
widowed daughter-in-law or a grand-child cannot maintain a petition under Section 125 of
Cr.P.C32. They have right to claim under Hindu Law but not under this Code. In another
case, the same ratio was maintained. It was held that, from a bare reading of Section 125
of the Code reproduced above, it is evident that only wife, legitimate or illegitimate
children and the parents are entitled to claim maintenance. No provision has been made
therein whereby a widowed daughter-in-law or grand children can claim maintenance.
Further, the husband of the wife, father of the children and son or daughter of the parents
can be directed to pay maintenance under certain circumstances mentioned therein. But
there is no provision in the entire scheme of this section whereby parents-in-law can be
directed to pay maintenance to their widowed daughter-in-law or the grand-children33.
31 Court orders father to pay maintenance of widowed daughter, (taken from:
32 Omana Chetan vs. S.S. Rangegowda and ors., ILR 2008 Karnataka 2240
33 Ved Prakash vs. Leena Kahar, 1996 CriLJ2703


In a case it was held that, the liability of maintenance cannot be taken to have been
discharged by sending the person liable to pay the monthly allowance, to jail. At the cost
of repetition, it may be stated that it is only a mode or method of recovery and not a
substitute for recovery34.

9.6. Maintenance of Widows under

International Conventions
Widowhood is both a crisis and a problem. In the suddenness and in the sea change that it
wroughts in the life of a woman, it is a crisis. As the woman tries to cope with the
implications it becomes a problem. The implications are almost always economic. On the
death of a man, the heirs immediately clamor for partition of the property including the
dwelling house. In such a situation the widow is often left homeless, or dependent on the
son. Even though by the law of the land she can claim maintenance from her children, in
actuality, she prefers to suffer in silence since she had neither the money nor the
knowledge or the support to get into a legal wrangle 35. To undo such situations CEDAW
34 Kuldip Kaur vs. Surinder Singh, AIR 1989 SC 232
35 Meera Khanna, The Voiceless Millions of Widows in India (taken from:


framework in Article 2 (b) states following: To adopt appropriate legislative and other
measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against
women. But, still in India, the law makers have been insensitive to the plight of women.
Art. 41 calls on the State party to ensure equality between women and men in family
relations in line with article 16 of the Convention and protect women from propertygrabbing, including by the husband and his family (in case of a widow) 36. All the
international conventions generally talk about, formation of civil and criminal code to setup maintenance rights for women, set-up of effective legislation for the upliftment of
status of women.

On the basis of above project report, it can be concluded that since always women have
had a secondary status and being a widow on the top of it is seen as a curse on her and on
her surroundings. The widows were considered as a curse to society and they were forced
to live an in isolation. With the advancement in society, such taboos have been demolished
today and they just have an archaic status. But still, widows have not reached to the status
of even a married woman. With time, different personal laws have developed to provide
them not only with an equal status to not only of a married woman but also that of a man.
In India, separate personal laws have recognized the rights of widows, not only mere right
of maintenance but also right of inheritance with some limitations. In addition to that, the
36 Art. 41 of Convention on the Elimination of All form of Discrimination Against Women

right of maintenance as envisaged under criminal code has led to speedy justice and has
propagated equality in gender as provided under art. 14 and art. 15 of the Indian
Constitution. Still, in a gender-biased country like India, a lot has to be done to maintain
equality of sex. Courts in many cases have helped vagrant and destitute widows to get
right of maintenance for their livelihood even though going out of the mere black letters of
But in future, still a lot has to be done for widows to help them from economic and social
disparity to achieve equality in its full sense and the inception of this could be done by
giving a widow an equal status to that of a married woman, by educating her so that she
can sustain herself and also, the social status of widows can be uplifted by allowing her to
re-marry, which is still not prevalent in Indian society. But, mainly by changing the mindset of individuals towards the widows. Thus, it all can be done by a change in perspective
towards the way we see widows today.
Also, it can be concluded that hypothesis drawn above stands true.

1. Books:
a) Diwan Paras (2008), Modern Hindu law, Twentieth Edition, Allahabad Law Agency.
b) Saxena Dr. Poonam Pradhan (2011), Family Law Lectures, Family Law-II, Third
Edition, Nagpur: Lexis Nexis Butterworths Wadhwa.

2. Articles:
a) Law of maintenance by Shashi Kiran

b) Law of Maintenance in India under Personal Laws An Analysis by Subhajit Nath
c) The Voiceless Millions of Widows in India by Meera Khan