Relying on Supreme Court decision here, a division bench of AP High Court held that, a husband cannot be sentenced indefinitely for breach of maintenance orders.
From Para 3,
3. From bare perusal of this provision, it becomes clear that a person against whom an order under Section 125(3) of the Code is made does not become liable to imprisonment on passing of an order of maintenance, his liability to suffer imprisonment only starts if he fails to respond to a warrant issued under Section 125 (3) of the Code for payment of maintenance. A warrant has to be issued under Section 125(3) of the Code for payment of maintenance, when an application is made by the person who has been held entitled to maintenance under section 125 of the code. When such a warrant is issued for making payment of maintenance, it has to be levied as the amount due in the manner provided for levying fines and if this warrant is not responded by making the payment, then the Magistrate can order imprisonment and the imprisonment in no case can exceed one month. Therefore, it is immaterial whether there were arrears of 12 months or of any other duration. The material question is whether a warrant under Section 125(3) been issued or not and in case of one warrant issued under Section 125(3) of the Code, there can only be one imprisonment and the maximum imprisonment would be one month. So in case a person chooses to file an application under Section 125(3) of the Code on every successive month on failure to get maintenance, she may get successive orders of imprisonment if the person against whom the warrant is issued fails to make the payment. But if a person chooses to make an application after several months, then again she will be able to get an order of imprisonment on failure to make the payment which will be only a maximum imprisonment of one month. We are fortified in our view by a judgment of the Supreme Court reported in Shahada Khatoon v. Amjad Ali, 1999 SCC (Cri) 1029 : (1999 Cri LJ 5060).
Indiankanoon Version:Abdul Gafaoor Vs Hameema Khatoon and Ors on 15 Sep 2003 (IK Ver)
Casemine Version:Abdul Gafaoor Vs Hameema Khatoon and Ors on 15 Sep 2003 (CM Ver)
Citations : [2004 DMC 1 693], [2003 ALD CRI 2 902], [2003 SCC ONLINE AP 894], [2004 AP LJ 1 154], [2004 CRI LJ 1280], [2004 CCR 2 332], [2004 HLR 1 332]
Other Sources :