Mothers’ Liability for Child Maintenance: A Landmark Ruling by Uttaranchal High Court

In a significant legal development, the Uttaranchal High Court, in a recent ruling on 9th August 2023, has expanded the scope of Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) by affirming that mothers can also be held liable to pay maintenance to their minor children through its ruling in the case of Anshu Gupta v. Adwait Anand, criminal revision no.133 of 2013 which was decided on 09-08-2023.

The Case at Hand

The case of Anshu Gupta v. Adwait Anand involved a minor child who sought maintenance from his mother, the revisionist, under Section 125 of the CrPC. Following the dissolution of the child’s parents’ marriage, the child resided with his father, and the mother did not maintain regular contact, thereby depriving the child of maternal love and affection. The petition for maintenance was initiated in 2011 by the child, represented by his natural guardian, against the mother in the family court of Udham Singh Nagar.

Interpreting Section 125 of the CrPC

Section 125(1) of the CrPC forms the crux of this case. It establishes the obligation of “any person” with sufficient means to maintain a minor child and mandates that they provide a monthly allowance for the child’s maintenance, as determined by the Magistrate. Historically, this section has predominantly been applied to fathers when it came to child maintenance. However, the court’s interpretation in this case challenges that traditional understanding. The Uttaranchal High Court, in its judgment, highlighted the gender-neutral language of the law. It emphasized that the term “any person” includes both males and females. Thus, the court established that mothers can be held liable under Section 125 of the CrPC if they possess the financial means and neglect or refuse to fulfill their duty of maintenance towards their minor child. This groundbreaking interpretation recognizes that mothers too can be responsible for providing for their children’s needs, not just fathers.

The Uttaranchal High Court’s ruling in the case of Anshu Gupta v. Adwait Anand, marks a historic moment in family law. It expands the scope of Section 125 of the CrPC, making it clear that mothers can also be held liable for the maintenance of their minor children if they have the financial means and neglect their duty. This gender-neutral interpretation aligns with the changing dynamics of parenting roles and emphasizes the importance of ensuring the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration. As a result, this judgment sets a significant precedent for future cases involving child maintenance, reinforcing the shared responsibilities of both parents in nurturing and supporting their children

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