September 30, 2022

What is ‘Kharch-e-Pandan’, and how does it differ from ‘Pin-Money’ under English common law?

When we read the maintenance laws, a word comes before us ‘Kharch-e-pandan’. ‘Kharch-e- Pandan’ was the allowance which was given for the maintenance of wives.

Pan’ means betel leaf in English and ‘Pandan’ means a box to keep betel leaves and ‘kharch-e-pandan’ in literal sense means ‘betel leaf expenses.’

Kharch-i-pandan

Kharch-i-pandan, which literally means ” betel-box expenses,” was a personal allowance, to the wife customary among Mahomedan families of rank, especially in upper India, fixed either before or after the marriage, and varying according to the means and position of the parties.

When they are minors, as is frequently the case, the arrangement is made between the respective parents and guardians.

ancient brass set of thai betel-contained tray,called in Thai “chian mark”

Is ‘kharch-e-Pandan’ means ‘Pin-money’ in English?

Although there is some analogy between this allowance and the pin-money in the English system, it appears to stand on a different legal footing, arising from differences in social institutions.

Pin-money, though meant for the personal expenses of the wife, has been described as ” a fund which she may be made to spend during the coverture by the intercession and advice and at the instance of the husband.”

In ‘Kharch-e-Pandan’, ordinarily, of course, the money would be received and spent in the conjugal domicile, but the husband has hardly any control over the wife’s application of the allowance, either in her adornment or in the consumption of the article from which it derives its name.

Nawab Khwaja Muhammad Khan vs Nawab Husaini Begam

The issue for ‘kharch-e-pandan’ came before the court in Nawab Khwaja Muhammad Khan vs Nawab Husaini Begam[1].

Fact of the case

The suit which given rise to appeal was brought by the plaintiff, a Mahomedan lady, against the defendant, her father-in-law, to recover arrears of certain allowance, called Kharch-i-pandan, under the terms of an agreement executed by him on the 25th October, 1877, prior to and in consideration of her marriage with his son Rustam Ali Khan, both she and her future husband being minors at the time.

The plaintiff was closely related to the ruler of the native state of Rampur; and the defendant executed the agreement in order to make a suitable provision for a lady of her position.

Agreement for ‘Kharch-e-Pandan’

The agreement in question recited that the marriage was fixed for the 2nd November, 1877, and that “therefore” the defendant declared of his own free will and accord that he “shall continue to pay Rs. 500 per month in perpetuity ” to the plaintiff for “her betel-leaf expenses, etc., from the date of the marriage, i.e., from the date of her reception, “out of the income of certain properties therein specifically described, which he then proceeded to charge for the payment of the allowance.

Issue

Owing to the minority of the plaintiff, her “reception” into the conjugal domicile to which reference is made in the agreement not taken place until 1883. The husband and wife lived together until 1896, when, owing to differences, she left her husband’s home, and since resided more or less continuously at Moradabad.

Decision

By the agreement on which the was based the defendant binds himself unreservedly to pay to the plaintiff the fixed allowance; there was no condition that it should be paid only whilst the wife  lives in the husband’s home, or that his liability should cease whatever the circumstances under which she happens to leave it.

Thus she had a clear right to sue under the agreement, and accordingly Court decreed the plaintiff’s claim.

Mrs. Vibha Mehta vs Ashwani Mehta[2]

In this case, Delhi High court confirmed the right of wife for the allowance from the husband, the court said that,

“We are unable to accept the contention of the husband that, the husband if provides food and residence, owes nothing further to the wife. The women, even when rarely going out of the house and when the entire expense of the household was met by the husband, were still found entitled to an amount for their own spending.

In certain regions, the said amount also went by the name of “Hath Kharch”. The expression used in the English system was “Pin Money”. Even otherwise, it is unbelievable that if the relations had been good, the husband if had been providing boarding and lodging, would not have provided anything further to the wife.”

REFERENCE

  1. Nawab Khwaja Muhammad Khan vs Nawab Husaini Begam, (1910) 12 BOMLR 638
  2. Mrs. Vibha Mehta vs Ashwani Mehta, 2012(5) R.C.R. (Criminal) 834

[1] (1910) 12 BOMLR 638

[2] 2012(5) R.C.R. (Criminal) 834