Interim Maintenance and Expenses - Section 24 Hindu Marriage Act

Interim Maintenance and Expenses - Section 24 Hindu Marriage Act

Section 24 of the Act makes provision for the grant of maintenance pendente lite and expenses of the proceedings to either spouse. Such provision of maintenance in favour of a needy spouse applies irrespective of whether such spouse appeared as initiator of the proceeding or not.

Once an order is passed under this section, no matter what happens in the petition thereafter, the liability to pay maintenance and expenses of the litigation in respect of the period during which the proceedings were pending cannot be avoided.

The subsequent dismissal of the petition does not exonerate the liability already incurred (B. Naidu v. Shantamma, AIR 1971 Mys. 25.) 


In Smt. Shasikala Pandey v. Ratnesh Parsad Pandey (A.I.R. 2009 Chh. 1.) (See also Vijay Kumar Gmdappa Shetkar v. Bhagywati Vijay Kumar Shetker, AIR 2009 Kar (NOC) 2150.) husband was divisional engineer working in the Bokaro Steel Plant of Steel City, Dhanbad. His wife filed an application for granting of interim alimony and expenses of the appeal, which was resisted by the husband.

In this case the Court upheld that his wife is entitled for maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, and principle of res judicata cannot be applied to frustrate right of maintenance pendente lite.( (Priyanka Srivastaoa V. Vipin Bihari Lai, AIR 2020 All. 31.)

In Kavita Vyas v. Deepak Ram Dave (AIR 2018 Raj. 72 (F.B.). court has held that order granting maintenance pendente lite, though limited in its duration is a final order and qualifies to be a judgment.

Object and scope of the section.—

In Chitralekha v. Ranjit Rai it was obeserved that the object behind the section is to provide financial assistance to the indigent spouse to maintain himself or herself during the pendency of the proceedings and also to have sufficient fund to defend or carry on the litigation so that the spouse does not unduly suffer in the conduct of the case for want of funds.


Where any decision could not be taken because the opposite party had been taking or adopting delaying tactics and disabling the court to take a decision. The main petition is decided meanwhile rendering the object of this section ineffective. Even if decision has been given on the main petition, the order on the application under Section 24 can still be passed.

The party standing in need of such relief may either be petitioner or defendant. The fact that under Section 24 relief can be granted to both the wife and the husband indicates that the Legislature intended to make no such distinction.

Laxmibai v. Ayodhya Prasad, (AIR 1991 MP 47.) the court laid down that the words 'husband' and 'wife' used in the section are not to be construed only literally or in the sense of lawful husband and wife, but it would also include such person who claims to be husband or wife in so called marriage or marriages not legally recognised.

The court can exercise the power of granting maintenance pendente lite even in the cases of invalid marriages and pass an order of maintenance.

The proceedings under this section are not governed by Section 23. 

Where the wife during the pendency of the petition for judicial separation, makes an application for maintenance and expenses, it cannot be refused to her on the ground that she had been living the life of adultery.

 In application of this kind the own conduct of the applicant is out of place and her alleged misconduct would not disentitle her to receive pendente lite maintenance. (Pradeep v. Shailja, AIR 1989 Del 10.) ((Brijlal v. Maya, AIR 1977 NOC HP 208.) 

Maintenance pendente lite cannot also be denied on the plea that the said party was guilty of some marital offence.

The contention of this kind is against the principal aim of the section which intends to provide financial assistance to the party which is financially dependent on the other side. (Ganga Pundalik v. Maruti, AIR 1979 Bom. 264.)

In this section the pendente lite maintenance could be claimed by the party for itself and not for the children.

When the wife claimed maintenance pendente lite for herself as well as for her children in a suit for divorce, the High Court of Orissa ruled that in such cases even children cannot be provided for any grant of maintenance. (Purushottam v. Puspa, AIR 1982 Orissa 33.)


In Amrika Singh v. Smt. Harinder Kaur ((AIR 2020 Pat. 5.) the court observed that

even after close of proceeding under the section the court remains competent to order pendente lite maintenance and expenses of litigation and it cannot be refused simply because the said litigation has ended. 

 Further court also held that, there is no prohibition under Section 24 to deny interim maintenance on account of an order of maintenance already passed under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. (Prachi v. Shailendra Kumar, AIR 2020 All. 3.) (AIR 2012 Raj. NOC 104.)

Quantum of maintenance.—

The claimant of maintenance pendente lite is entitled to receive only that much which would suffice for its maintenance and is needed to bear the cost of the proceedings.

The amount must be reasonable so as to be adequate enough for legitimate needs and at the same time be also in keeping with the financial resources of the party against whom the order is passed. (Dr. Utpal Kumar v. Manjula Devi, AIR 1988 Cal 80.)


Where the wife was not granted sufficient amount to properly contest the petition filed against her and to maintain herself during the course of proceedings as a result of which an ex parte decree was passed against her the Supreme Court set aside the decree and held that the amount of the pendente lite maintenance should be enough to enable her to contest the petition properly. (Anita v. Laxmi Narain, AIR 1992 SC 1198.)

If any party to the marriage received financial assistance from relatives, friends or elsewhere, it would not create hinderance in his or her way towards recovering maintenance under the section.

Similarly, the fact that the wife has received money from her relatives or that, she is in a position to arrange therefor or that she is possessed of jewellery which could be converted to cash would not be relevant for the maintenance of the proceedings under the section or for its rejection. (Radhika v. Sadhuram, AIR 1972 MP 14.)

Interim maintenance would not be allowed where the very factum of marriage is denied/by the respondent.

In Banka v. Nawal Banka (AIR 2009 Pat. NOC 1900.) the court held that, ad interim maintenance fixation of quantum court has to strike a balance in the standard of life between both the husband and wife and has to ensure that such standard of life for wife is secured during pendency of matrimonial case. 




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