Mar 11, 2022

5 things you didn’t know about the Hindu law on maintenance

The Bombay High Court has said that if a Hindu woman’s husband dies, she has the right to ask for maintenance from her father-in-law.

Let’s look at what Hindu law says about the right to maintenance.

What is the Hindu law on maintenance?

The law relating to maintenance among Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs) is the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.

What is ‘maintenance’?

According to Hindu law, ‘maintenance’ includes providing for food, clothing, housing, education and medical treatment. Such maintenance can be claimed by a Hindu wife (or widow), children, aged parents etc.

The right of a Hindu wife

A Hindu wife has the right to be maintained by her husband during her life time.

In certain cases, the wife can claim maintenance even when she is living separately from her husband. This includes situations where the couple is living separately because the husband has been cruel to his wife, or if he has abandoned his wife etc. However, a wife who is living separately cannot ask for maintenance if she has sexual intercourse with another man, or if she converts to another religion.

The right of Hindu children and parents

During their life, all Hindus have a legal responsibility to maintain their children. Hindus also have a responsibility during their life to maintain their aged or unwell parents.

Children below 18 years can claim maintenance from their Hindu parents. Further, an unmarried daughter can ask for a reasonable amount of maintenance regarding the expenses related to her marriage.

It is only when parents or unmarried daughters are unable to support themselves from their own earnings or property, that a Hindu man or woman has a duty to maintain the parents or unmarried daughters.

The right of a Hindu widow

After the death of her husband, a Hindu woman can ask for maintenance from her father-in-law if she is unable to support herself from her own earnings or property. A Hindu widow can ask for maintenance from her father-in-law if she is not able to get maintenance from the estate of her husband, parents, or children.

However, a widow cannot get this maintenance if her father-in-law does not have the resources to provide the maintenance. Further, if the daughter-in-law remarries, then the father-in-law does not have to provide maintenance after her remarriage.

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