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Can father legally recover money spent on child’s education? Here’s what the Bombay HC said in this case

father son case, child education, case of cheating, Bombay High Court, Parents obligated to spend money on child educationfather son case, child education, case of cheating, Bombay High Court, Parents obligated to spend money on child educationThe father from 2004 to 2009 provided the funds for higher education to his son and the said funds were used for the said purpose.

A case of cheating filed by a father against his son for failure to pay back Rs 29 lakh along with compound interest @10.5%, which was provided by the father to his adult son for further education in the USA, has apparently disturbed the Hon’ble Judges of the Bombay High Court, who have held that parents are obligated to educate their child and spend money on his/her education as per their capacity.

According to legal exerts, the father from 2004 to 2009 provided the funds for higher education to his son and the said funds were used for the said purpose. The son in 2008 had issued a letter of acknowledgement that he will pay the funds with interest latest by 1st January 2010.

In the intervening time, the parents underwent divorce proceedings and the son took the side of his mother. On failure to pay the money back, the father in 2015 filed a criminal complaint before the Metropolitan Magistrate, citing charge of criminal breach of trust and cheating. The magistrate based on the letter of acknowledgment passed an order of issuance of process against the son, which was challenged by the son before the Bombay High Court.

“It was interesting that in the criminal complaint the relationship between father and son was not revealed nor mentioned. The judges of the Bombay High Court dismissed the contention that relationship need not be taken into account as being baseless, but also absurd. The Bombay High Court also did not agree with the charge that son has cheated the father as the son did not induce his father to provide the loan nor did he use it for a purpose other than what it was provided for. They pointed out the distinction between acknowledgement and inducement,” says Sandeep Shah, Partner, N. A Shah Associates LLP.

The judges have made some pertinent observations to the effect that:

1. ‘To educate a child and spend money on his education as per the capacity is an obligation of the parents and if it is discharged, then the child should be grateful and it is not a legal issue. Such monetary transactions are out of love, affection, care and concern, which should not be transformed into the litigations.’

2. ‘The matters before the court reflect mirror image of the culture, maturity and problem areas of the Society in the country. The present litigation speaks in volume about the deterioration of the social values on which exclusively the legal relationships stand. Filing of such litigations is a root cause of piling of cases in the Courts.’

However, since during the course of argument, the son has given an undertaking to pay Rs 15 lakh in 3 instalments, the court quashed the issuance of process. The payment was made by post-dated cheques.

“The litigation is an eye opener for the next generation as their written acknowledgment to repay the educational loan taken from parents should not be taken lightly by them. Also, the parents must realise that higher courts are averse to parents shunting away from their primary responsibility towards children, be it minor or adult, and file cases for recovery of money provided by them in discharge of their parental duty,” says Shah.

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Source: Financial Express