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Report No. 48

32. Question whether maintenance under section 488 can be provided for in respect of indigent parents.-

Section 488 of the Code, dealing with maintenance, does not, at present cover indigent parents. Apparently, this question has been raised, though no proposal on the subject has been made in the Bill1. The point was considered by the previous Commission, but the Commission did not favour any amendment2.

The Commission felt that it would not fit in with the scheme of the section, and also pointed out that in summary proceedings of the nature contemplated in section 488, it may be difficult to decide questions of the proportion of the amount to be paid by each child.

1. Cr. P.C. Bill, clause 128.

2. 41st Report, Vol. 1, para. 36.4.

33. While we appreciate the difficulties pointed out in the earlier Report, we should emphasise that the object of section 488 (to prevent vagrancy) is relevant in this case also, and the need for an adequate remedy to check vagrancy in the case of parents cannot be reasonably disputed. The practical difficulties pointed out in the Report of the previous Commission should, we venture to suggest, not prove to be insurmountable. The principle of section 488 is essentially one of socialism, and ought to be given a wide scope. We, therefore, recommend that the scope of section 488 should be expanded so as to authorise proceedings for the maintenance of indigent parents who are unable to maintain themselves. We do not enter into the detailed changes that will be necessary to achieve this object.

34. We may note that under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act1, a Hindu is bound to maintain his or her aged or infirm parents so far as the parent is unable to maintain himself or herself out of his or her own earnings or other property.

Under the Muslim Law2 also, there is an obligation to maintain one's 'necessitous parents', if, one has the means, and this obligation rests in equal shares upon children of both sexes. Hence the proposed amendment will not cast any new obligation. We may add that the proposed amendment does not imply that the parents will have a right to separate maintenance. Whether there is sufficient reason for a claim for separate maintenance by the wife is even now determined by the Court, and the same will be the position as regards the right of the parents.

1. Section 20, Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (78 of 1956).

2. Tyabji Muslim Law, (1958), p. 279, para. 330.

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