Father has a duty to maintain and pay for education, marriage of daughter even if they are earning, says Delhi High Court

By-Gautam Choudhary

[Poonam Sethi v Sanjay Sethi] The Delhi High Court has ruled that a father has an obligation to maintain and care for his daughters, including their education and marriage, even if they have reached majority and are employed and earning cash.

There is a contrast between making an income and being able to support oneself, according to Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh of the Division Bench. Even though a person is producing money, he or she may not be able to support himself. The Court was hearing an appeal filed by a mother of three children who claimed she had been raising kids on her own for the past 11 years with no financial assistance from the father. The appeal was filed in response to a Family Court order that required the father to pay child support for the young boy but denied any relief in the case of two girls who were beyond the age of 18.

The father’s lawyer relied on the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, which states that maintenance is only available to unemployed and dependent daughters. He further claimed that there is no clause in the Hindu Marriage Act requiring him to support his daughters and wife once they start working. The High Court, on the other hand, disagreed, stating that earning money does not always imply that a person can support himself or herself. The Court ruled that even if an unmarried daughter is employed and earns money, she cannot be considered a dependent. It’s safe to presume she’ll be able to cover her matrimonial expenses.

It was recognized, however, that neither the father nor the mother had been honest about their genuine income in this situation. The Court stated that, despite the fact that the father is a well-known numerologist who owns a Mercedes and has gone to the United States, Hong Kong, and Dubai, he claimed an annual income of little over $3 lakh, which could not be accepted. As a result, the judges concluded that assessing the father’s financial situation necessitates some guessing. It then ordered him to pay a sum of 35 lakh towards the wedding expenses of his eldest daughter, who lives in the country. It’s safe to presume she’ll be able to cover her matrimonial expenses.

In the case of the younger daughter, who is unemployed, the Court ordered the father to pay a sum of Rs. 50 lakh because she is unemployed and her wedding is already planned. The judges added that although dismissing the appeals, they hoped that the mother would play a good role in bridging the gap between the father and the daughters and that he would be welcomed at his daughters’ weddings.

Advocate Bhuvan Mishra represented the appellant woman in the case, while attorneys Anshul Narayan and Sourabh Pahwa represented the husband.