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Written By- Shajeeda Tajdeen

Justice Raghvendra S. Chauhan of the Karnataka High Court has made an interesting observation wherein he stated that a single mother who is responsible of taking care of her infant child cannot be burdened to work even if she is educated.

As per the provisions of section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a person unable to maintain themselves does not specifically mean that they are not capable of earn a living, destitute or physically disabled. Considering this explanation of the provision and with a view to widening the scope of the above mentioned provision by making it more public oriented the Karnataka High Court interpreted this section and stated that ‘a mother with a young child/infant would not be able to take up a full time job as she has to take care of the child at the same time’ and taking care of an infant child is not an easy task as it involves ample amount of time, dedication, energy and it is equivalent to full time employment. The court further said that the term ‘capacity to be employed’ does not exclusively or absolutely depends upon her degree or qualification, in an attempt to bar or exclude her from receiving maintenance.

This decision of the Court came up in an appeal filed by a man (husband) from a previous order of the family court in which he was asked to pay maintenance to his wife. The husband had challenged this order in the Court wherein he had claimed that his wife is duly qualified as she possesses an M.Com degree and she had been a working woman even before and after marriage and based on her job experience and qualification acquiring and doing a job would not be a difficult task for her.

The Hon’ble High Court rejected this application filed by the husband stating that education is not alone sufficient to guarantee a job. This statement was made in consideration with unrestricted and uncontrolled urban employment. Thus, the court stated hampering a single mother to rush back and fro from office to home to take care of her child would be unreasonable and unfair for the woman and the child.

This decision of the Karnataka High Court comes as a persuasive precedent and the judiciary has once again moved a step ahead in terms of gender equality. By this, decision the judiciary has not only understood the plight of a working single mother but also understood the need of child to have his/her mother by their side while growing up.


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