Maintenance cannot be termed as charity. Maintenance is a sum of money which is paid by the husband to his wife. Under Hindu law, it is the spiritual duty of the husband to maintain his wife. And this duty continues from the date of marriage till the dissolution of marriage through a decree of divorce.
The main object of section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act is to grant maintenance to the wife so that she can have financial assistance and she is able to maintain herself during the pendency of proceedings. Husband also has a right to claim maintenance from the wife.
Since the object of section 24 is to provide financial assistance, the application under section 24 must be disposed of as expeditiously as possible. However if the main case itself has been dismissed, there is no provision under which court can give relief in an application made under section 24.
The wording used by section 24 is such that not only wife but also husband can claim maintenance. Therefore this section does not discriminate on the basis of sex.
Section 24 is applicable when the marriage itself is valid. If the marriage itself is not valid (that is it is a void marriage), then wife cannot claim maintenance under section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act.
Although this provision refers to only husband and wife, this does not mean that maintenance cannot be increased because children are in the custody of wife. Family Lawyers in Chandigarh have also contended that court must consider the fact that since children are in the custody of wife, it is wife’s obligation to raise and maintain her children. And for that purpose the husband must maintain and children.
As to the nature of the proceedings, it has been held that the proceedings under section 24 are not original proceedings. They are merely interlocutory proceedings. Further, lawyers sometimes compare proceedings under section 24 with with proceedings under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code. In this regard courts have clarified that both the proceedings are separate and different. Merely because order under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code has been passed, jurisdiction of the court cannot depart under section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act. However it has also been clarified that if two orders under both the provisions mentioned above have been passed in a single matrimonial dispute then the husband is only liable to pay according to the order which mentions a higher amount.
Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh has also stated that the application made under section 24 is not barred if application the section 125 Criminal Procedure Code has been rejected.