In its recent order, a court in Andheri, Mumbai has ruled in favour of a woman where the magistrate observed,
A husband, even if he is a beggar or physically challenged, cannot be exonerated from the responsibility of paying interim maintenance to his wife and child.
The court noted,
It is a settled position of law that after marriage, the income of parents, the brother of wife cannot be considered. Even the income of the parents of the husband cannot be taken into consideration for deciding the quantum of the maintenance. It is the responsibility on the shoulder of the husband.
The woman in her application stated that she had been constrained to file the petition under the Domestic Violence Act, as she has been made “a victim of emotional, mental and financial violence” at the hands of her husband and in-laws.
Adding further the woman also said that her in-laws had compelled her to beg and borrow money from friends and family to meet basic expenses and she was also on the verge of being thrown out of the house. The woman further claimed that she had nowhere to go and could not be a burden on her aged mother. She alleged her husband continued to torture her and their child and employed all means to harass them to get them to leave.
The husband and in-laws denied the allegations and claimed the woman had lost her memory because of severe and chronic mental disorders, which she had concealed from them. They also said she had falsely claimed they owned multiple commercial and residential properties.
The court held it appeared the woman was subjected to domestic violence. While the woman sought an interim monthly maintenance of Rs 2.5 lakh, the court awarded her Rs 15,000 per month.
The woman claimed her husband was wealthy, making money from multiple sources, including his family business, partnership in a spa, production of gutka, imported cars and share brokerage, his income tax returns showed he earned only Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 per month.
The court concluded,
In the absence of convincing documents it cannot be said that the respondent is earning more than Rs 50,000 per month. Therefore, in the absence of any document, it is necessary to do guess work in that regard which leads me to infer that though not from the higher side, the respondent (husband) has a reasonable income as per his documents.
The Bombay high court, in an earlier order, had directed the husband to refrain from making the woman leave the house.
Whatever findings are concluded at a trial court must be respected and the husband has a right to challenge the same in higher court.
However, when remarks such as ‘Maintenance needs to be paid even if husband is a beggar or physically challenged’ are made, the same reflect poorly how there is no responsibility on fully abled wife to support herself or her child.
Karan Thapar Interview (2006) With WCD Minister Renuka Choudhary (Domestic Violence Act)
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