Q: My wife had filed a divorce case in 1996. She took maintenance each month, amounting to a total of Rs 7 lakh, till 2008, when she settled for mutual divorce and another lump sum alimony of Rs 5 lakh. In the affidavit before the judge, she stated that she would not claim any maintenance in any court and even if she did, that would be rejected. Yet, in June 2013, she approached the court for maintenance. How can I get relief from this continuous pressure?
A. Chaudhury, Calcutta
A: There are several high court and Supreme Court decisions that hold the right to claim maintenance as a matter of public policy and not individual right. So, even if it is waived by mutual consent, such agreements are against public policy and hence void. After some amendments a few years ago in Section 127 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the section provides that even if such an order had been passed on an earlier date under Section 125 and the magistrate is satisfied that the woman had voluntarily surrendered her rights to maintenance and interim maintenance, it is not binding and he may cancel it depending on the merit of the case. You will have to contest your wifeís plea. You may consider using the provisions under Section 127 of the CrPC.
Q: My parents own a house jointly. We are three sisters. My youngest sister and I are married. Now my father wants to sell his share and give the money to his brothers. Can he do that without my motherís approval? In case my mother passes away before him, will he be able to sell it without our consent? In case he does not give us a share, can we file any complaint against him? Can my mother give her portion to us?
Swagata Sengupta, via email
A: Being a joint owner, your mother owns half the property. Your father cannot sell his share without her being a party to the sale deed. She may give her share to you three by executing a will making you all the beneficiaries to her share in the property. If your mother pre-deceases your father, her share would be sub-divided between your father and the three of you. In that case, any sale would require the participation of all the legal heirs. If your father deprives you of your respective shares, you may lodge a complaint in the local police station and file a civil suit of partition, coupled with an injunction.