A Hindu is liable to maintain even his illegitimate children, the Bombay high court (HC) held recently, rejecting a petition filed by a Pune resident.
The man had challenged a family court order issued in 2007, which rejected the divorce petition filed by his wife on grounds that she failed to establish that they were married. The court had, however, directed the man to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 500 each to the couple’s children – a son and a daughter.
“A Hindu is liable to maintain his or her legitimate or illegitimate children,” the division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice AK Menon said, referring to section 20 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956.
The man had approached the high court on grounds that the maintenance order could not have been issued in view of the conclusion of the trial court that the woman had failed to prove the marriage and sought to also dispute the paternity of the children.
The HC, however, found although there was no evidence of marriage, which according to the woman was performed at a small religious shrine, the man had signed an application seeking birth certificates of both the children, and the man had not denied cohabitation with the woman.
The judges concluded the man cannot shirk the responsibility by denying everything, from marriage to cohabitation and the paternity of children. “The liability of the appellant [father] to maintain children cannot be avoided simply by denying the fact of marriage,” the judges said, dismissing the appeal.