Maintenance In Hindu Jurisprudence

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INTRODUCTION Maintenance has been a concept under Hindu Jurisprudence since the time of the Great Sages and Rishis. Since those times, maintenance has been regarded as a duty of a Hindu – a duty that he owes to his dependent relations and by which both the person and the property are bound. In the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act 1956, Sections 21 and 22 specifically deal with the maintenance of dependents. Section 21 defines dependents by enumerating a list of people who can be classified under the head. Dependents can be related to the deceased Hindu either by blood or by marriage. Section 22 on the other hand lays the obligations upon the heirs of the deceased Hindu to maintain his dependents from the property that they inherit. Through…show more content…
Their main there was a clear distinction between legal and moral obligations to provide maintenance. While legal obligation would mean that it was legally binding and that the person would have to provide maintenance regardless of whether or not he himself had property, moral obligation would imply the person providing for maintenance out of his own volition, a matter of conscience. Right to maintenance has also always been closely connected to the right of property in a Hindu Joint Family. In a Joint Family, the head of the family, also known as the Karta, is bound to maintain other members of the family, including those who, due to extenuating factors have been excluded from having a share in the property or inheriting any share of the property. In this way, the joint family property was always made liable for the maintenance of the dependants of a deceased coparcener. Upon the death of a coparcener, the extent of his share in the property would go towards the maintenance of those who, if he was alive, he would have been under a moral or legal obligation to maintain. Right of maintenance against a property was determined by reference to dependency or exclusion from inheritance of the same or…show more content…
This claim is to be made against the heirs of the deceased Hindus who inherit the property of the deceased to the extent of their inheritance. At this point, it is pertinent to draw a distinction between dependents and heirs. Heirs are blood relations of the deceased Hindus. Upon their death, the deceased’s property devolves upon the heirs. By the language of this section therefore, it is clear that the obligation is intended to be laid only on those who have inherited the estate of the deceased. Dependents on the other hand are not necessarily blood relations. They can be related either by blood or by marriage. As many of the dependents listed in Section 21 are also Class I heirs under the Hindu Succession Act 1956, there could have been a possible confusion as to whether the dependents can claim property through the Hindu Succession Act and yet again claim maintenance against other heirs under this act. This confusion is cleared by section 22(2) where a condition is laid down for claiming the maintenance – a claim can be made only if the dependent himself/herself has not inherited a share in the deceased’s property through either testamentary or intestate succession. Furthermore, this legal obligation of the heirs is, as has been mentioned earlier, only to the extent of their inheritance – proportionate to the share that

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