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Law panel recommends maintenance for Hindu wife of man with disability

The new clause proposed to be incorporated in the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 will, however, not be applicable where the husband has received his share in the joint family property.

“...The Commission feels it necessary that the right of a Hindu woman, whose husband is unable to provide maintenance to her, must be protected,” the law panel said in its report on proposed amendment to the Act.

According to new Section 18 (4) proposed by the Commission, “where the husband is unable to provide for his wife, on account of physical disability, mental disorder, disappearance, renunciation of the world by entering any religious order or other similar reasons, the Hindu wife is entitled to claim maintenance during her lifetime, from members of the joint Hindu family of the husband.”

In its report submitted to Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, the panel said under the Act, the wife of a person who is incapacitated does not enjoy right to maintenance against the relatives of the husband even if he is a member of a joint family.

“The only remedies available to such women to get any form of maintenance is to either file a suit for partition in respect of the state of her husband or file for divorce...both such courses take considerable time in our country...,” the 252nd report of the panel noted.

The issue was referred to the Law Commission by the Punjab and Haryana High Court last year in the Avtar Singh Vs Jasbir Singh case.

In the said case, the wife of a man of unsound mind had sought one-fourth share in the land belonging to the family from her father-in-law as maintenance for herself, her spouse and their children.

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