Representational image.
Representational image.

Give allowance till son gets his first degree, not just till he's 18: SC

The bench ordered the man to pay for his son’s education till March 31, 2027, to ensure he has the necessary financial support to complete his graduation
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:09 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed a man to support his son financially not only till he turned 18 but till the time he completed his first degree course while observing that graduation was now considered “basic education”.

The bench comprising justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah ordered the man to pay for his son’s education till March 31, 2027, to ensure he has the necessary financial support to complete his graduation.

“Paying only till he turns 18 will not be sufficient in present times when the first basic degree comes only after one completes his college. You (the man) should pay for his education, at least till he gets his first formal degree from a college,” the bench told the man while modifying an order of the family court.

The family court, in its order dated September 2017, had directed the man to pay 20,000 per month towards the maintenance of his son from his first marriage till he turned 18. The couple was married in 1999, the boy was born in March 2004.

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The man, an employee in Karnataka government’s health department, separated from his first wife after their divorce in June 2005, following which the family court in Karnataka’s Bagalkot fixed the maintenance for the child at 20,000 per month. The man appealed in the high court, which upheld the maintenance order in December 2019.

The man moved the apex court, contending his net take home salary was a little over 21,000 and since he had married again and had two children, paying 20,000 to his son from the first marriage will leave him with virtually nothing to maintain his new family.

Advocate Chinmay Deshpande, appearing for the man, further pointed out that the couple had separated because the woman was in an adulterous relationship. But the bench was quick to shoot down this submission: “You cannot punish the child for this. What does the child have to do all this? And when you married again, you must have known you already have a child that you need to support.”

Representing the child and his mother, advocate Gaurav Agrawal said that it would be more appropriate if the father were directed to pay a lesser sum every month, but not only till the son turned 18; instead, till he completed his graduation.

The bench called this suggestion “fair”, noting such an order would ensure the necessary financial support for the son to enable him complete his first degree course. It, therefore, reduced the monthly maintenance for the child to 10,000 every month, starting March 1, 2021, while further directing the father to enhance the monthly allowance by 1,000 at the start of every subsequent financial year.

The court ordered that this amount shall be paid for a period of six years or until the child completed his degree course. It also held that 6.64 lakh, which has already been paid by the father, shall be treated as full and final settlement of allowance till date.

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