Sharad Manohar, J.
1. The grievance made by Mr. Patel, the learned Advocate for the petitioner/husband in this petition, which arises out of the proceedings under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code is that the learned Additional Sessions Judge has taken the view of law diametrically opposed to the view taken by this Court to his knowledge.
After examination of the case, I find that the grievance of Mr. Patel is quite justified. That apart, the point on which the trial Court dismissed the wife's petition for maintenance is justified by three judgments of this Court, one of which was brought to the notice of both the courts below, as mentioned above. Since this is the legal position, the petition has got to be allowed.
2. The facts are very simple.
The respondent/wife filed an application against her husband, the present petitioner, on various grounds. It is un-necessary for me to set out all the grounds. The only fact which needs be stated here is that she did not make any averment in her application to the effect that she was unable to maintain herself. Not only this, but even in the evidence led by her there was not as much as a murmur on her part that she was unable to maintain herself. The trial Court was unable to accept the evidence of the wife in relation to her plea of neglect on the part of her husband to maintain her. But over and above that, he also found that the applicant/wife had abstained from not only making any averment of maintenance, but even from leading any evidence of her inability to maintain herself.
In these circumstances, the learned Magistrate dismissed her application for maintenance. However, he held that the child from marriage, respondent No. 2, was entitled to maintenance as a matter of right and hence, he passed an order of maintenance in her favour for Rs 50/- per month.
3. In this connection, it is to be noted that the learned Magistrate specifically relied upon the judgment of a learned Single Judge of this Court in the case of Kewaldas Pandurang Awale v. Kunda Kewaldas Awale, 1982 Maharashtra Law Journal p. 167 wherein it has been held by this Court that when the wife making application under section 125 of the Cri.P.C. does not make any averment in her application about her inability to maintain herself and when she does not even depose to that effect in her evidence, the Court has no jurisdiction to grant any maintenance to her.
4. In the revision application filed against the said order by the wife, the learned Additional Sessions Judge has specifically referred to this fact that the above mentioned judgment of this Court was relied upon by the trial Court for coming to the conclusion that in the absence of any averment and proof relating to her inability to maintain herself, the wife was not entitled to invoke the Court's jurisdiction to grant maintenance to her.
But, for the reasons best known to himself, the learned Additional Sessions Judge decided to ignore or over-rule the said judgment and he proceeded to hold that the very fact that the wife had presented the application for maintenance itself meant that she was unable to maintain herself. The learned Judge has not examined the evidence to ascertain whether even in her evidence she was deposed to her inability to maintain herself. The learned Judge further took the view that the wife was admittedly living away from her husband, at her parent's place. He further found that there was no evidence relating to payment of maintenance to her by the husband. He further held that there was no evidence led by the husband to prove that the wife was able to maintain herself.
On this ground, he allowed the revision application, set aside the order of the trial Court and awarded maintenance to the respondent/wife at the rate of Rs. 100/- per month.
5. As stated at the outset, Mr. Patel for the petitioner/husband has rightly urged his grievance before this Court as regards the extremely inadvisable approach of the learned Additional Judge of ignoring the judgment of this Court. In this connection, it is to be noted that it is not as if that the learned Judge has relied upon some other contrary judgment of this Court. What he has referred to is only the judgment of V.V. Joshi, J., reported in 1982, Maharashtra Law Journal, p. 167. That judgment leaves no room for doubt that in view of the state of the record, as it stands, showing that there exists no averment in the application for maintenance nor there exist any deposition on the part of the wife relating to her inability to maintain herself, the Court has no jurisdiction to award any maintenance to the wife. Evidently, the learned Judge seems to have disagreed with this judgment. He has given his own reasoning for disagreeing with the judgment and have proceeded to allow the revision application. Such an approach by the learned Judge betokens judicial in-discipline.
6. Mr. Patel invited my attention to two other authorities, where the same view as the one taken by Joshi, J., has been expressed. In : 1982(2)BomCR94 Marotrao Baburao Chaudhary v. Chandrakanta and another, Puranik, J., has taken the same view. Likewise, in (Criminal Revision Application No. 542 of 1977, decided on 17-8-1978 Jahagirdar, J.)3, has taken an identical view.
The view taken by, at least, three Judges of this Court is that it is an indispensable prerequisite for the wife to apply for maintenance that she is unable to maintain herself. If she is able to maintain herself, she cannot invoke the Court's jurisdiction under section 125 at all. It may be that even if she had not made specific averment relating to her inability to maintain herself in the petition, it is conceivable that the averment was capable of being implied if at least in her evidence she had deposed to her said inability. It may be that once she deposed to her inability to maintain herself, the onus would be shifted to her husband to prove that her deposition did not correspond to the true state of affairs. It may be that the initial onus upon the wife to plead and prove her inability may shift on a very small piece of evidence. But it cannot be gainsaid that the initial onus is upon herself.
This is the view taken by all the above mentioned three authorities, one of which was in fact brought to the notice of the learned Judge. It was not proper on the part of the learned Judge to ignore the said authority and to proceed to give his own reasoning for the purpose of allowing the revision application. It is a matter of judicial discipline that the subordinate judiciary should follow the decisions of the High Court, which have the binding effect so far as the courts in the State in question are concerned.
7. There is one more reason why the view taken by the above mentioned three judgments of this Court cannot be faulted.
If one turns to the provisions of the erstwhile section 488 of the Criminal Procedure Code, one finds that under the said old section there was no provision that maintenance could be claimed only by that wife who was unable to maintain herself. The expression 'unable to maintain' was made applicable to the child. But so far as the wife was concerned, the side pre-requisite did not exist under the old section 488. In the new section 125, most of the portion of old section 488 is retained. But, the most noticeable change brought about by the new Code is that the words 'unable to maintain' quality not only the child, but also the wife. This means that inability to maintain herself was not required to be proved under the old Act, whereas under the New Act it is made an imperative necessity. The courts cannot turn its blind eye to the change studiedly brought about by the amending statute.
8. I am sorry that there was no one to represent the case of the wife before me. The petition was adjourned for that purpose on one occasion. But there was still no appearance on behalf of the wife.
9. In the result, it must be held that the order passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge cannot be sustained and the order of the trial Magistrate has got to be restored.
Rule earlier issued is, therefore, made absolute. The order passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge is hereby set aside and the one passed by the Judicial Magistrate is restored.
Rule made absolute.