The Delhi High Court has ruled while an unmarried or widowed daughter has a claim in the estate of her deceased father, the same does not apply to a divorced daughter as she is not a dependent entitled to maintenance.
The high court made the observation while dismissing an appeal filed by a divorced woman challenging a family court order which had rejected her claim of maintenance from her mother and brother.
The high court said the claim for maintenance has been made under Section 21 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA) which provides for the dependents who may claim maintenance.
It provides for nine categories of relatives in which a divorced daughter does not figure, the court said.
“An unmarried or widowed daughter is recognized to have a claim in the estate of the deceased, but a ‘divorced daughter’ does not feature in the category of dependents entitled to maintenance,” a bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna said.
The woman’s father died in 1999 leaving behind four heirs- his wife, son and two daughters. It was the woman’s case that she was not given any share as a legal heir.
She contended her mother and brother agreed to pay her Rs 45,000 per month as maintenance on an assurance that she would not press for her share in the property. She said she was given maintenance regularly only till November, 2014 and not thereafter.
The woman said her husband deserted her and she was granted ex parte divorce in September 2001. She claimed the family court had not taken into consideration that she did not receive any money, alimony or maintenance from her husband.
She submitted since her husband was not traceable, she could not seek any alimony or maintenance from him.
The high court said in its order, “However difficult situation as it may be, but under the HAMA she is not a ‘dependent’ as defined under the Act and thus not entitled to claim maintenance from her mother and brother.”
It said the family court rightly observed that the woman had already received her share from the estate of her father earlier and that having received the same she could not again raise any claim of maintenance afresh from her brother and mother.
“The respondent no. 2/ mother has already made arrangements for providing the residence to the appellant (divorced daughter). It cannot be overlooked that the respondents being the brother and mother had also supported the daughter/appellant by voluntarily giving her Rs 45,000 per month to her till 2014,” the court said.