Family law

Maintenance Under Hindu Law

Maintenance is a legal obligation in Hindu law that requires a person to provide financial support to their dependents,

Karan Modi, A 2nd-Year, B.K Mercantile Bank Law College Student has written this Article explaining the maintenance under Hindu Law


As per the dictionary, maintenance means to support, upkeep, sustentation, or alimentation. Maintenance is one type of financial assistance to either the party of marriage on the order of the respective court.

Maintenance is a legal obligation in Hindu law that requires a person to provide financial support to their dependents, which includes his spouse, children, and also parents who are unable to support themselves.

The provision of maintenance is governed by various enactments like the Hindu marriage act 1955, the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, under sections 125 to 128 of the Criminal Procedure code1973, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, also The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act, 2007.

These enactments lay down the provisions for the maintenance of dependants, including the amount of maintenance that should be paid and the circumstances under which maintenance can be terminated.

As per section 3(b) (i) of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956 maintenance includes, provision for food, clothing, residence, education and medical attendance and treatment, and in the case of an unmarried daughter, also the reasonable expenses of an incident to her marriage; (c) “minor” means a person who has not completed his or her age of eighteen years.


  • Temporary Maintenance

It is also known as maintenance pendente lite, Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 deals with this kind of maintenance. Maintenance is awarded by the courts during the proceedings of the divorce. The purpose is to meet the necessary and immediate expenses of the spouse who is a party to the proceedings. Interim maintenance is supposed to meet the immediate needs of the petitioner.

  • Permanent Maintenance

As per Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 granting of a sum on a periodical basis or a continued basis once the proceedings have been disposed of.  Either party of marriage is entitled to receive it.


K.Sivarama vs. K.Bharathi

The court that any marriage in contravention of Sections 5 & 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 cannot be considered to be a valid marriage. Such a woman cannot recourse maintenance U/S. 25 of the
Hindu Marriage Act for claiming maintenance.

Who Can Claim Maintenance?

The following persons can claim Maintenance under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956:

  • Maintenance of Wife
  • Maintenance of Widowed daughter-in-law
  • Maintenance of Children and aged or infirm Parents
  • Maintenance of Dependent person
Maintenance of Wife:

As per section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, a Hindu wife, whether married before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her lifetime. The right of a wife is an incident of the status of matrimony, and Hindus are under a legal obligation to maintain their wife.

As per section 18(2) of the Act, a Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance in the following circumstances:

  • If a husband is guilty of desertion, or abandoning her without reasonable cause and without her consent or against her wish, or of wilfully neglecting her.
  • If a husband has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that it
    will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband.
  • If the husband has any other wife living.
  • If the husband keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife is living or habitually resides with
    a concubine elsewhere.
  • If a husband has ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.
  • If there is any other cause justifying her living separately.

According to section 18(3) of the Act, a Hindu wife cannot claim maintenance in two cases:

  1. If the wife is unchaste.
  2. If the wife ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion.

Mangala Bhivaji Lad Vs Dhondiba Rambhau Aher [1]

In this case, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court held that the second wife of a Hindu is not recognized as a legally wedded wife and she is not covered in the ambit of maintenance. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not recognize the second marriage.

Maintenance of Widowed daughter-in-law:

 As per section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, In case of the death of a husband, a Hindu wife is entitled to be maintained by her father-in-law. It is immaterial whether a woman marries before or after the enactment of the Act.

This right exercise is only if the wife is unable to maintain herself out of her earning, or other property, or unable to obtain maintenance out of –

  1. from the estate of her husband or her father or her mother, or
  2. From her son or daughter, if any, or his or her estate.

The obligations of the father-in-law under this Act shall cease in the following two circumstances:

  1. Father-in-law has no means to maintain daughter-in-law from coparcenary property in which daughter-in-law has no share.
  2. When the daughter-in-law remarries.

Master Daljit Singh vs. S. Dara Singh[2]

In this case, the court held that where the father-in-law did not inherit any property, he was not liable to pay any maintenance to his widowed daughter-in-law.

Maintenance of Children and aged Parents:

Section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, imposes a duty on the part of Hindu parents to provide maintenance to legitimate/illegitimate minor children or infirm parents.

A legitimate or illegitimate child may claim maintenance from his or her father or mother so long
as the child is a minor.

The obligation of a person to maintain his or her infirm parent or an unmarried daughter, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself out of his or her own earnings or other property.

  1. Mst. Samu Bai & Shahji Magan Lal[3]

It was held that maintenance for aged parents must be provided if parents have no means to sustain themselves out of their property or earning. If the aged parents have enough means to maintain themselves, the obligation of children can be relaxed.

  1. Jasbir Kaur Sehgal v District Judge, Dehradun & Ors[4]  The court held that an unmarried daughter is entitled to claim maintenance under The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956. The father is obliged to maintain her unmarried daughters even if they are living separately with their mother
  2. Padmja Sharma v. Ratan Lal Sharma[5],  It was held that both, the divorcee father and earning mother are obliged to contribute to the maintenance of their children under The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
Maintenance of dependent person:

 As per section 21 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, “Dependants”  include father, mother, widow, minor son, minor unmarried daughter, widow’s son, widow’s unmarried daughter, son’s widow, grandson’s widow, son’s unmarried daughter, his or her illegitimate son, his or her illegitimate daughter as long remain unmarried.

 Section 22 of the Act[6] provides the heirs of a deceased Hindu are bound to maintain the dependants of the deceased out of the estate inherited by them.

Where a dependant has not obtained, any share in the estate of a Hindu dying after the commencement of this Act, the dependant shall be entitled, to maintenance from those who take the estate. The liability of each of the persons who take the estate shall be in proportion to the value of the share of the estate taken by him or her.

No person shall be liable to contribute to the maintenance of others, if he or she has obtained part the value of which is, if the liability to contribute were enforced, become less than what would be awarded to him or her by way of maintenance under this Act.


Kalla Maistry v Kanniammal [7]

The court held that a claim for maintenance under Section 20 can validly be made by an illegitimate child. Who is born of adulterous intercourse.

Husband’s Right To Get Maintenance From His Wife:

There are provisions in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for the husband to claim maintenance from the wife. Under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 husband is entitled to claim maintenance while the proceedings are going on if he is not in a condition to support expenses of proceedings or other necessary expenses.

 Under Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 husband gets entitled to maintenance and permanent alimony in the form of monthly or periodical sums.


Rani Sethi v Sunil Sethi[8]

The Delhi High Court held the wife must pay Maintenance and ordered her to pay the respondent Rs. 20,000/- per month and Rs. 10,000 as litigation expenses, as well as provide him with a car for the petitioner’s use.

Yashpal Singh v Anjana Rajpuit[9]

The court held that the husband has made no attempts to earn money that he is capable of earning or the husband who incapacitates himself intentionally loses the opportunity to apply for filing for maintenance. Therefore, he cannot claim Maintenance from his wife.

 XYZ And ABC, 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 24

Recently in 2023, the Karnataka High Court said that if a wife is directed to pay maintenance to an able-bodied husband who does not suffer from any disability or infirmity, it would be promoting idleness.

Amount of maintenance:

The Act has not set the amount of maintenance that must be paid. It shall be at the discretion of the court to determine what, maintenance shall be awarded under section 23 of this Act, and the court shall have due regard to the considerations set out in the case of a wife, children or aged parents, or dependent as far as they are applicable.

 In case determining the amount of maintenance, to a wife, children, or aged parents under this Act:

  • the position and status of the parties,
  • the reasonable wants of the claimant,
  • the claimant is living separately, whether the claimant is justified,
  • the value of the claimant’s property and any income derived from such property, or the
    claimant’s earnings or from any other source,
  • The number of persons entitled to maintenance under this Act.

In case determining the amount of maintenance, to a dependent under this Act:

  • the net value of the estate of the deceased after providing for the payment of his debts,
  • the provision, if any, made under the will of the deceased in respect of the dependant,
  • the degree of relationship between the two,
  • the reasonable wants of the dependant,
  • the past relations between the dependant and the deceased,
  • the value of the property of the dependant and any income derived from such property; or her earnings from any other source,
  • The number of dependants entitled to maintenance under this Act.
  1. Kulbhushan Kumar (Dr) v/s Raj Kumari[10] The court held that the wife is entitled to 25% of the husband’s net income as maintenance.
  • Chandaram Bunkar Vs Smt. Ramadevi [11]

The court held that Maintenance may be awarded up to the extent of 1/5th of the income of the spouse. The husband was drawing a salary of about Rs.35000 per month and an amount of Rs.3000 per month had been awarded by way of maintenance to life. After retirement husband was drawing a provisional pension of Rs.15115 per month. Order of Family Court maintaining an amount of Rs.3000 as maintenance to wife even after the retirement of husband, not improper.


To sum up, what has been said so far, under Hindu law maintenance is governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, of 1956. The amount of maintenance is determined by various factors such as the income and financial status of the person involved, the needs of the dependent, and the standard of living of the parties involved. Maintenance can be claimed through a legal proceeding of the court.

It is important to note that maintenance is not limited to just financial support. But it also includes other necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Overall, maintenance under Hindu law serves as a means to ensure that dependents can sustain themselves and maintain a basic standard of living.

Also Read: Divorce Under Hindu Law


[1] AIR 2010 Bom.122

[2] 2000 Del.292

[3] AIR 1961 Raj 207

[4] (1997) 7 S.C.C. 7

[5] AIR 2000 SC 1398, (2000) 4SCC266.

[6]the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956

[7]  (1962) 2 MLJ 529

[8] CM (M) 169/2009

[9] C.R. 505 Of 2000

[10] AIR (1970) 3 S.C.C. 129

[11] AIR 2010 Raj 176


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