In the case of ‘Dr. Vijya Manohar Arbat v. Kashi Rao Raja Ram Swami (1987)’, the question came before the Supreme Court for consideration whether father is entitled to claim maintenance from his married daughter, under section 125(1)(d) Cr. P.C.
Sub-section (1) of section 125 Cr.P.C. provides as under:-
“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,
a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife or such child, father or mother, at such monthly rate not exceeding five hundred rupees in the whole, as such Magistrate thinks fit, and to pay the same to such person as the Magistrate may from time to time direct:
Provided that the Magistrate may order the father of a minor female child referred to in clause (b) to make such allowance, until she attains her majority, if the Magistrate is satisfied that the husband of such minor female child, if married, is not possessed of sufficient means.”
The Court’s Analysis
The Court analysed the case as follows-
- “Sub-section (1) of section 125 confers power on the Magistrate of the First Class to order a person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of some of his close relations like wife, children, father and mother under certain circumstances.
- It has been observed by Supreme Court in Bhagwan Dutt v. Kamla Devi,  2 SCC 386 that the object of section 125 Cr.P.C. is to provide a summary remedy to save dependents from destitution and vagrancy and thus to serve a social purpose.
- There can be no doubt that it is the moral obligation of a son or a daughter to maintain his or her parents. It is not desirable that even though a son or a daughter has sufficient means, his or her parents would starve.
- Apart from any law, the Indian society casts a duty on the children of a person to maintain their parents if they are not in a position to maintain themselves. It is also their duty to look after their parents when they become old and infirm.
- The Counsel, appearing on behalf of the appel- lant, has urged that under clause (d) of section 125(1) a father is not entitled to claim maintenance from his daugh- ter whether married or not. Our attention has been drawn to the use of the pronoun ‘his’ in clause (d) and it was submitted that the pronoun indicates that it is only the son who is burdened with the obligation to maintain his parents.
- It is true that clause (d) has used the expression “his father or mother” but, in our opinion, the use of the word ‘his’ does not exclude the parents claiming maintenance from their daughter.
- Section 2(y) Cr.P.C. provides that words and expressions used herein and not defined but defined in the Indian Penal Code have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that Code. Section 8 of the Indian Penal Code lays down that the pronoun ‘he’ and its derivatives are used for any person whether male or female. Thus, in view of section 8 IPC read with section 2(y) Cr.P.C., the pronoun ‘his’ in clause (d) of section 125(1) Cr.P.C. also indicates a female.
- Section 13(1) of the General Clauses Act lays down that in all Central Acts and Regulations, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context, words importing the masculine gender shall be taken to include females. Therefore, the pronoun ‘his’ as used in clause (d) of section 125(1) Cr.P.C. includes both a male and a female.
- In other words, the parents will be entitled to claim maintenance against their daughter provided, however, the other conditions as mentioned in the section are fulfilled. Before ordering maintenance in favour of a father or a mother against their married daughter, the court must be satisfied that the daughter has sufficient means of her own independently of the means or income of her husband, and that the father or the mother, as the case may be, is unable to maintain himself or herself.
- The father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself, can claim maintenance from their son or daughter. The expression “his father or mother” is not confined only to the father or mother of the son but also to the father or mother of the daughter. In other words, the expression “his father or mother” should also be construed as “her father or mother”.
- We are of the view that section 125(1)(d) has imposed a liability on both the son and the daughter to maintain their father or mother who is unable to maintain himself or herself. Section 488 of the old Criminal Procedure Code did not contain a provision like clause (d) of section 125(1). The legislature in enacting Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 thought it wise to provide for the maintenance of the parents of a person when such parents are unable to maintain themselves.
- The purpose of such enactment is to enforce social obligation and we do not think why the daughter should be excluded from such obligation to maintain their parents.”
Dr. Vijya Manohar Arbat v. Kashi Rao Raja Ram Swamy (1987)