A sessions court in Mumbai directed an aeronautical engineer to pay Rs 1 lakh from his salary as maintenance to his estranged wife and children. The 40-year-old husband, who earns a monthly salary of Rs 5.5 lakh, did not pay interim monthly maintenance to his wife despite a court order, following which, he was asked to pay Rs 1 lakh per month.
As reported by TOI, in 2018, the engineer’s wife lodged a domestic violence complaint against her husband and his family members. In February 2019, the magistrate court ordered interim maintenance for the woman and her kids, following which, the man moved the sessions court. In April 2019, the sessions court asked the man to pay costs of Rs 2,000 within a fortnight as there was a delay in filing the appeal.
In June 2019, the man returned to the sessions court and claimed that he was unaware of the April 2019 order. He said he was working in another city and was unable to track the order due to a technical glitch in the court’s application. The man said that he asked his lawyer to speak to his estranged wife and pay her Rs 2,000 as soon as he learned about the order.
The sessions court, however, observed that the man was present when the order was passed. The court then rejected the plea. In November 2019, the woman moved the magistrate court for attachment of the man’s salary. The woman alleged that the accused only paid Rs 2 lakh since the court granted maintenance in February 2019.
The engineer owes Rs 30 lakh in interim maintenance arrears. The court observed that the man earns a handsome salary and was prima facie, avoiding the payment of interim maintenance to his wife and kids.
The man, however, opposed the same and said that he moved the Bombay High Court where his plea was pending and the hearing was delayed due to COVID-19. The man alleged that his estranged wife lied to the court that she was unemployed.
The court stated that the order granting interim maintenance was not stayed and hence, he was obliged to obey the same.
The magistrate court said that its order granting interim maintenance had not been stayed. Thus,
You have to obey the court order. The woman’s employment status can be considered at the time of final decision on her domestic violence complaint.
- The biggest flaw in our interim maintenance cases is lack of definite timeline, until when the amount needs to be paid to spouse (most often by husbands to wives)
- Secondly, the interim maintenance is directly awarded even before domestic violence charges are proven against man and his family
- Thus, whether the woman has concealed her real income, alleged false charges on husband, etc. all are secondary – what prevails is her right to maintenance from Day 1 of application
- Naturally, this becomes a trigger for many men to avoid making timely payments
- Having said so, while the above is a practical side to completely flawed laws, all citizens are indeed obliged to follow the law of the land
- COVID-19 has certainly delayed several stay orders and while if the genders were reversed, court could have overlooked missing deadline, however, there has been no sympathy whatsoever for the man in this case