No easy stay on Maintenance orders

Higher Courts should not stay an order of maintenance unless there are very special reasons, the Supreme Court has observed.

In this case, a wife and minor child filed a petition under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code before Family Court. An ex parte order was passed by the Family Court granting maintenance @ Rs.20, 000. The husband preferred application for setting aside the ex parte order which was dismissed. Later, the High court, in a criminal revision petition filed by him, stayed the order, without assigning any reasons.

In appeal filed by the wife, the bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose disapproved this approach of the High court and said:

We are constrained to observe that this order shows total non-application of mind on the part of the High court. This was a case where maintenance had been granted to a wife and to a minor son. The High Court without recording any reason whatsoever, has stayed the grant of maintenance both to the wife and to the minor son. This should not be done. A husband/father is duty bound to maintain his wife and child. Unless there are very special reasons, the higher Court should not normally stay such an order. In the present case no reason has been mentioned justifying the grant of the stay order.

The court then aside the order and directed the husband to pay the amount of maintenance as awarded by the Family Court. The High Court was directed to afford hearing to the parties and pass an appropriate reasoned order.