Raise age for child maintenance to 21: Court
NEW DELHI: A trial court has urged the Centre to amend the Hindu Maintenance Act which entitles a child to get maintenance only till the age of 18, saying that in this time the age should be increased to 21 so that the child is able to finish his studies and earn a livelihood.
Additional District Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri said the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act was enacted 60 years ago and in this day and age, things have changed considerably. “This period of more than half-a-century has witnessed vast changes in every walk of life. Machines are replacing men in factories and industries… Only skilled workers are able to get jobs. Menial jobs are reduced to their lowest ebb. A child of blueblood may not opt for such trash jobs, unless at the brink of starvation. Quest of employers to get the best of jobseekers has conjointly made it very difficult for a child of tender age to fulfill the stringent requirements of a job,” ADJ Shastri said.
The court made these remarks while hearing the plea of a boy whose father stopped giving him maintenance when he turned 18. The boy’s counsel said that the boy had no independent income and if the maintenance was stopped, he may not have any option but to leave his studies midstream. Though, bound by the law, the counsel did not press for seeking maintenance, he urged the court to make a reference to the High Court to declare the provision prescribing maintenance for a son till he attains majority, as ultra virus.
The court expressed its limitations in not being able to direct the man to pay maintenance as the law did not provide such a provision. “This court has no option but to allow the defendant (father ) not to pay maintenance to the son. At the same time, this court feels that the aforementioned provision should be amended. A child (other than married daughter) should be entitled to maintenance till he/she attains the age of 21 provided he/she is still pursuing his/her studies or otherwise incapable of earning his/her livelihood or it be left to the court to determine till when a child be provided maintenance,” the judge said.