What can be done if awaiting notice shows on the case?


While framing the guidelines, the Supreme Court found that despite the statutory provisions requiring proceedings for interim maintenance to be disposed of in a time-bound manner, said applications often remain pending for several years due to, among other things:

the parties seeking multiple adjournments; and
the significant time that it takes to complete pleadings at the interim stage.

It was observed that such delays defeat the object of the legislation. Further, the courts often decide the amount of interim maintenance on the basis of pleadings and rough estimations made therein. In addition, parties often:

submit insufficient material;
disclose incorrect or ambiguous details; or
suppress vital information.

While setting out the criteria for determining the amount of maintenance to be paid, the Supreme Court recognised that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for doing so. Stressing the importance of maintaining a careful and just balance between all relevant factors, the court held that the amount of maintenance awarded must be reasonable and realistic.

It directed the courts to observe the fact that maintenance awarded to an applicant should be neither so extravagant that it becomes oppressive and unbearable for the respondent nor so meagre that it drives the applicant to penury.

When deciding the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, the court found that most of the statutes which contain provisions for maintenance (except Section 125(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure) are silent on this issue. The lack of a uniform regime has resulted in inconsistencies in the practice adopted by various courts.

While some courts have held that payment of maintenance must be made from the date on which the application for maintenance is filed, others have held that such payment should be made from the date of the order of maintenance. Others still have held that such payments should be made from the date on which the summons is served on the respondent.

Reference: Section 125(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure



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