If complainant dies, legal heir can collect maintenance dues 😳😳😳
Ruling in Domestic Violence Case
The Times of India (Mumbai edition)
21 Nov 2018
Mumbai: In perhaps a first-ofits-kind order, a sessions court ruled that the legal heirs of domestic violence victims can recover maintenance arrears if the complainant dies during pendency of the case. On Friday, the court upheld a magistrate court order directing a 32-year-old Chembur resident to pay Rs 1.35 lakh in maintenance arrears to his mother-in-law. The amount was due to his estranged wife, Laxmi Waghmare, who died in October 2017.
The husband, Vikrant, had claimed there was no provision Domestic Violence (DV) Act for legal heirs of a victim to be made party to cases. However, the sessions court said that the liability to pay maintenance under DV Act is not strictly a criminal liability, though proceedings are stated as ‘criminal proceedings’. “But still, liability to pay arrears of maintenance, being statutory liability, will have to be treated as civil liability of the appellant (Vikrant) and therefore, the mother and the legal heir of the deceased will be en- titled for recovery of arrears of maintenance,” the court said.
Laxmi filed a complaint in 2015 alleging harassment by her husband and in-laws. She said she had married Vikrant on May 30, 2013. She sought interim maintenance, which was granted by the magistrate court. The amount due from 2015 until the time the order was passed in 2017 was Rs 1.35 lakh. After Laxmi died, her mother, Padma Lokhande, moved the magistrate court and requested it to pass an order for recovery of the interim maintenance amount. On May 15 this year, the magistrate court passed an order asking Vikrant to pay the amount to Padma.
Vikrant then moved the sessions court and contended that his mother in law was never party to the proceedings before the magistrate court and hence, had no right to claim the amount. He stated that there is no provision under the DV Act or Criminal Manual for substitution of relative of a party before the court