(2) A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance:
(a) If he is guilty of desertion, that is to say, of abandoning her without reasonable cause and without her consent or against her wish or of wilfully neglecting her;
(b) If he has treated her with such cruelty as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband;
(c) If he is suffering from a virulent form of leprosy;
(d) If he has any other wife living;
(e) If he keeps a concubine in the same house in which his wife is living or habitually resides with a concubine elsewhere;
(f) If there is any other cause justifying her living separately?
(3) A Hindu wife shall not be entitled to separate residence and maintenance from her husband if she is unchaste or ceases to be Hindu by conversion to another religion.
Thus under Section 18 of the Act, the wife’s right of maintenance may arise in the following two situations:-
(i) When the wife lives with her husband; and
(ii) When the wife lives separate from her husband’s.
1. When wife lives with her husband:
A wife who resides with the husband must be maintained by him. The obligation of the husband to maintain his wife is a personal obligation.
2. When the wife lives separate:
A wife who lives apart with the consent of the husband is entitled to maintenance. She is also entitled to maintenance she lives separate from her husband for a justifiable cause. Section 18(2) of the Act lays down the grounds on which wife may live separate and claim maintenance.
The Hindu law also prohibits alienation of property by the husband or karta or manager, which has the effect of depriving the wife and other dependents of their maintenance. Though the wife was treated as a member of the Hindu Joint Family, she has no right to seek partition. Therefore, she was declared entitled to maintenance out of the joint family property.
Thereby, an interest is created in the property either self-acquired or joint family of the husband to fall back upon to enforce her right to maintenance, a personal obligation, by creating a charge on the properties. That right was accorded statutory recognition by Section 18 with the condition that the person who inherited the estate from the deceased must be the heir of the deceased Hindu. [T.S. Mahalaxamma v. M.D. Prasad A.I.R. 1984 NOC 265 AP].