1. A question of law of some importance and of common occurrence of late has been raised in this petition. The petitioner is the husband who aggrieved by an order of interim maintenance passed by the Third Joint Civil Judge, (Junior Division), Nagpur in Regular Civil Suit No. 466 of 1981 has approached this Court. the order by which he is aggrieved passed below Exhibit-7 directs him to pay interim maintenance in a sum of Rs. 200/- performance month for the plaintiffs from the date of filing of the suit till the date of the disposal of the suit.
2. The suit was brought by plaintiff Bhima, the wife of defendant Madhukar for herself and on behalf of her two minor children, plaintiffs 2 and 3 Satish and Dilip, aged 5 and 4 years respectively. She claimed maintenance from the husband on the ground that the husband had deserted her and her children and was not looking after them and maintaining them' that he had a kept mistress by name Kalavati with whom he is residing in the family house; that he has also a child from the said mistress.
3. The petitioner husband resisted the suit. His contention was that he had not married Kalavati and had not kept her as his mistress or that she had a child from him. His contention was that he was willing to maintain all the three plaintiffs. His wife, plaintiff 1, was deliberately staying away from him with a view to harass him. He, therefore, contented that no interim relief should be given to her. It does not appear, though in reply to the application Exhibit-7, a contention or a ground was taken challenging the jurisdiction of the Court to grant any interim relief in such a case, for want of any provision, nevertheless the matters seems to have been raised squarely before the learned Judge during the course of the arguments.
4. The petitioner supported his arguments and contentions in the Court below as well as in this Court, by relying upon a decision in Appanna v. Seethamma (reported in : AIR1972AP62 ) and also upon the provisions of Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. He also relied upon the circumstances that Section 151, C. P. C., is not a section which confers any substantive rights upon the parties. Section 151 is merely a handmaid to the procedural law contained in the Code of Civil Procedure for the purposes of aiding and assisting the procedural rights conferred upon the parties. His contention was that under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, though a decree for maintenance can be obtained and final relief granted, there is no provision for grant of any interim relief or interim maintenance as he calls it.
5. The decision relied upon by Mr. Belekar, counsel for the petitioner was also cited in the Court below. the learned Judge however preferred to follow the decision of this High Court in Civil Revn. Appln. No. 77 of 1972. Suman v. Ramesh and the decisions in Gouri Gupta Chaudhari v. Tarani Gupta : AIR1968Cal305 and Nemaichand Jain v. Smt. Lila Jain : AIR1968Cal405 .
6. The Andhra Pradesh judgment no doubt fully supports the view canvassed before me by Mr. Belekar. It has no doubt a great persuasive force, delivered as it was, by Justice Chinnappa Reddi, as he then was, later of the Supreme Court. If the judgment would be binding, then possibly there would have been no alternative but to allow this petition and to dismiss the application. The judgment does not, however, have a binding character. There appears to be a conflict of decisions on this question between various High Courts. It seems that the Madras, Calcutta, Orissa and Karanataka High Courts take the view that such an order can be passed, while the Andhra Pradesh High Court is the solitary High Court taking the contrary view. Mr. Belekar also referred me to the recent decision of the Rajasthan High Court which appears in 1981 Cri LJ (NOC) 44. That is, however, a case under Section 125, Creek. P. C. and could not be added to the High Courts taking the view like the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
7. With very great respect, I am unable to think that though there is a power in the Court under Section 18 as well as S. 20 to grant from the father-husband, such a power does not exist pending the suit. To my mind, there are two answers which can be found and available to this contention that such a right is not conferred either under Section 18 or Section 20 or that Section 151, C. P. C., cannot be called in aid.
8. Adverting firstly to Section 18, Hindu Adoptions ahd Maintenance Act, and analysing the section, it would be clear that sub-section (1) confers an absolute right upon the Hindu wife to maintenance by her husband during her lifetime. This right is controlled and subject only to sub-section (3) and that is where the wife is unchaste or ceases to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion. Sub-section (2) confers a right to live separately from the husband upon a Hindu wife only under certain circumstances. In the present case, such a right is also pleaded by the plaintiffs. Leaving aside that aspect of the matter for the time being, it seems to me clear that the right maintenance even in the household of a husband where the husband neglects or does not provide maintenance to his wife is conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 18. It is not necessary for the operation of sub-section (1) of S. 18 that wife must be also entitled to live separately in the circumstances provided under sub-section (2). The liability to maintain is spelt out by S. 18(1) and is absolute and is not subject to any conditions excepting so far as may be provided by sub-section (3).
9. Now the maintenance is a matter of right which accrues and occurs from day to day and from time to time. It is a continuous right. It cannot be said that the right to be maintenance is granted or can be granted and arises only upon passing of the decree. It is a right arises from day to day and is entitled to be adjudicated upon, satisfied and sanctioned from time to time and from day to day. Whatever limitations there may be upon the wife's right to maintenance under S. 18, are not to be found under S. 20. the minor children of a father during their minority would be entitled to be maintained and there is an obligation upon a Hindu to maintain them during his lifetime. It is not contended in the present case that the petitioner had been maintaining his children, plaintiffs 2 and 3. So far as plaintiff 1 is concerned, I have already referred to his contention that he is willing to maintain the plaintiffs and that it is plaintiff 1 who is staying away from him with a view to harass him. But it is not his case that he has been maintaining plaintiffs 2 and 3. He cannot choose to punish assuming any wrong is committed by plaintiff 1, plaintiffs 2 and 3 who are his children within their rights to be maintained by him on the ground that he is willing to do so if they return with plaintiff 1 to his house. In the present case, the plaintiffs have in addition made out a case, which is clearly prima facie made out, that the husband has been living with a concubine or mistress by name Kalavati. A certificate of birth at the Medical College Hospital of a daughter to Kalavati whose father's name was given as that of the petitioner's was produced. It is no doubt true that the matter has not been finally adjudicated. Mr. Belekar made a grievance that the said document was produced at the time of arguments and he ahd had no opportunity to controvert that document or show that it was not correct or genuine. It may, however, be pointed out that no such opportunity seems to have been sought also. whatever that may be and since all that is necessary to do at this stage is to consider the question whether a prima facie case for separate residence is made out by the wife. This evidence prima facie at least may be considered enough and could have been considered in favour of the wife by the learned Judge.
10. There is yet one more reason why I think that the power to grant interim maintenance must be held to be possessed by Courts where the power to grant maintenance by way of a decree is undoubtedly possessed. The power that to do at an interim stage which the Court can do finally must be presumed to exist and inherent n every Court. That is a power which is incidental or ancillary to the main power, namely, the power to grant maintenance statutorily granted to the Courts under Ss. 18 and 20. Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. Besides as Judge pointed out the nature of the right which is conferred by Ss. 18 and 20 upon a wife and the children is a right which is continuous and arising from day to day. Since it cannot be adjudicated daily and no series of decrees could be passed an order granting interim maintenance is in substance pursuant to the substantive right conferred under Ss. 18 and 20. This aspect of the matter or nature of the right and the power to utter that right as an ancillary and incidental power does not seem to have been considered in the Andhra Pradesh judgment with very great respect. It is a settled position in law that where the principal power or main right to grant relief is conferred upon the Court or upon an authority, such Court or authority has also powers to grant those and such reliefs which are incidental to the main relief.
11. I may in this connection refer to a decision of the Supreme Court in Management Hotel Imperial v. Hotel Workers Union, : (1959)IILLJ544SC . There also the power to grant interim relief was spelt out of the power conferred under Section 10 upon the Tribunal to determine the question incidental to the questions referred to it. Grant of interim relief in respect of an adjudication relating to the reinstatement and back wages was considered as incidental to the relief. Borrowing the same logic and reasoning, I am inclined to consider and think, that apart from what appears to me to be reasonable as clear and implicit in Sections 18 and 20 to grant interim maintenance that this power can be also spelt and inferred as incidental thereto.
12. In such a situation S. 151, Civil P. C. can easily be called in aid. The Calcutta decision in Nemai Chand Jain's case : AIR1968Cal405 rested itself upon the power under the Civil Procedure Code to pass interlocutory orders dehors Section 151. It pointed out that it was not necessary to have recourse to Section 151 to grant interim maintenance. In view of what I have observed above, it seems to me that the right to grant interim relief flows from the substantive right in Sections 18 and 20 themselves and if not Section 151 can be called in aid to translate that right into practice and actual relief. The power to grant such a relief is incidental and ancillary to the power to grant final maintenance both under Sections 18 and 20.
13. In that view of the matter, the petition will have to be rejected. Rule discharged. The petitioner will pay the costs of the respondents. Stay vacated. Stay writ is directed to be sent to the trial Court immediately. Record be sent immediately.
14. Petition dismissed.