"Traditional norms and values of the Indian society has laid stress on providing care for the elderly and in our country, the mother is worshipped as the goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity) of the house. The Sruti (Taittiriya Upanishad) emphatically declares: “MATRU DEVO BHAVA” (Let thy mother be thy God)." - Hon'ble Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal

In
Uttar Kumar Bhoi
v.
Smt. Surekha Bhoi

Judgment delivered by: Hon’ble Shri Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal

Act and Sections Involved : Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior  Citizens Act, 2007- Section 4 and Section 5

Brief

Petitioner is son and Respondent No.1 is step mother. Application of Respondent for maintenance was granted by the Tribunal, constituted under the Act of 2007, and an order directing payment of 10,000 per month as maintenance amount was made. The same was challenged by the petitioner in this petition.

The Petitioner’s counsel contended that “learned Tribunal is absolutely unjustified in granting maintenance to the respondent which is shockingly high and the petitioner is incapable of making payment of the said amount.”

Respondent’s counsel on the other side submitted that, “…petitioner is working as a government teacher … and earning sufficient money to maintain his mother and he is financially capable of making payment…. .”

The Honorable court while dealing with the matter took note of the following sections provided under the Act:

  1. “parent” defined in Section 2(d) includes step-father and step-mother.
  2. “children” as per Section 2(e) includes son, daughter, grand-son and grand-daughter but does not include a minor.
  3. “maintenance” defined in Section 2(b) includes provision for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment.
  4. Section 4 of the Act of 2007 provides for entitlement of maintenance by senior citizen including parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or out of the property owned by him against one or more of his children not being a minor and in the case of a childless senior citizen against his relatives who would inherit his property. By virtue of sub-section (3) of Section 4 the obligation of the children to maintain his or her parents extends to the need of such parent either father or mother or both, as the case may be, so that such parent may lead a normal life.
  5. Section 5 provides for making application for maintenance by a parent if he is incapable, to the Tribunal which is empowered to make monthly allowance during the pendency of proceedings also.
  6. Section 9 provides that if the children or relative neglect or refuse to maintain a senior citizen being unable to maintain himself, a Tribunal may on being satisfied of such neglect or refusal, order such children to make a monthly allowance to the senior citizen which shall not exceed ₹ 10,000/- per month.

Also, the property left by the husband was being possessed by the petitioner and the respondent was left alone. The Respondent is unable to maintain herself and therefore the Tribunal granted an amount of ₹ 10,000/- per month from the date of application considering the income of the petitioner who is a government teacher
having sufficient income to maintain his step-mother. Also the petitioner neither filed any document or record to demonstrate that his income is not sufficient to make payment nor that the Respondent has sufficient means to maintain herself.

The Honorable  Court quoted lines from ancient scriptures like Taittiriya Upanishad; Mahabharata; Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: section CCLXVI at p. 248 and Ramayana, at 2.111.9 and held that, “the amount of maintenance ₹10,000/- includes provision for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment, therefore looking to the price index prevailing at present, the said amount cannot be said to be on higher side or shockingly high requiring interference by this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India as such, the writ petition deserves to be dismissed.

“May you be one for whom his mother is a Deva. May you be
one for whom his father is a Deva. May you be one for whom
a guest is a Deva. May you be one for whom his teacher is a
Deva. ” – Taittiriya Upanishad

Quoted by Hon’ble Justice Sanjay K. Agarwal in Uttar Kumar Bhoi v. Surekha Bhoi