The Madras High Court in a recent decision M. Chinna Karuppasamy v. Kanimozhi on 16th July 2015, while considering an interesting issue that whether a woman, against whom a decree of divorce had been passed on ground of adultery, is entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC, the bench of S. Nagamuthu, J., held that a divorced wife, who lives in adultery is disqualified from claiming maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC. Further elaborating the Court observed that, if a wife during the subsistence of her marriage and after divorce continues to live in adultery, she loses her right to claim maintenance.

The present criminal revision challenged the Order of the Principal District and Sessions Judge who directed the petitioner to pay a sum of Rs.1,000 per month towards the respondent’s maintenance. The counsel for the petitioner, G.R. Swaminathan contended that, once the Civil Court has granted decree for divorce on the ground that the wife was living in adultery, then as per Section 125 (4) CrPC, she loses her right to claim maintenance from her former husband. Opposing the petition, G.P Rajadurai contended that the term ‘adultery’ as existing in Section 125 (4) of CrPC refers to commission of the deed while the marriage is still subsisting, whereas a divorced wife is perfectly at liberty to choose her way of sexual life.

The Court on perusing the contentions and the concerned statutory provisions, observed that for the purposes of Chapter IX and Section 125 of CrPC, the meaning of the term ‘wife’ cannot be confined only to the wife whose marriage is in subsistence. The Court further observed that after divorce, if a wife wants to retain her right to claim maintenance, then she has to maintain the same standards of discipline that she was supposed to maintain when her marriage was in existence. The Court further stated that as much as a husband is duty bound to provide maintenance to his wife after divorce, a wife has an equivalent duty to not to have an illicit relationship with another man. A breach of this obligation by a wife tends to disqualify her from claiming maintenance. Analyzing the issue, the Court stated that a wife suffering from the disqualification to claim maintenance on ground of adultery continues to remain disqualified for the same even after a divorce decree has been passed.