In a recent order pertaining to maintenance under Section 125 to wife, Karnataka High Court observed the mere fact that a woman possesses high educational qualifications is not a reason by itself to presume that she can maintain herself.
A Single Bench of Justice Dr. H.B. Prabhakara Sastry held so while dismissing the revision petition filed by a husband challenging the family order which directed him to pay Rs 3,000 per month to his wife.
The couple got married in the year 2003, as per Hindu rites. Thereafter, they were separated and the wife continued to be residing separately in her brother’s house at Mysuru. The wife had filed an application before the family court under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking maintenance from the respondent therein, at the rate of Rs 5,000 per month.
The husband filed a matrimonial case before the same Family Court under Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 seeking dissolution of the marriage.
- The family court by its judgment dated 03-01-2013 allowed the petition filed by the husband for divorce
- It also allowed-in-part the petition filed under Section 125 by the wife and directed the husband to pay maintenance to his wife (present respondent) Rs 3,000 per month from the date of the petition
Arguments By Husband
The husband had claimed that the wife is a double Graduate as per her educational qualification, and thus she can fetch a livelihood on her own, without troubling the petitioner husband for maintenance.
Arguments By Wife
Advocate Archana KM , the amicus curiae appointed by the court to represent the wife, submitted that mere educational qualification or a person having a higher educational qualification would not by itself make that person as self-sustainable, having ability to earn her livelihood. She further submitted that, though the present respondent as wife may have capacity to earn, but she has been unable to earn her livelihood, admittedly, for various reasons including medical reasons. As such, it is the duty of the present petitioner husband to maintain her.
Karnataka High Court
The court agreed with the submission of the amicus curiae and went on to observe:
Section 125 (1)(a) and (b) of the Cr.P.C. more clearly mentions that, it is not the capacity of the wife or the children which entitles them for claiming maintenance, but, it is their inability to maintain themselves. A reading of the above Section, more particularly sub-section (1)(a) and 1(b) of the said Section would clearly go to show that, what the law requires is, wife’s or daughters’ inability to maintain themselves.
Adding further the court said,
A person being unable to maintain herself cannot be equated with her capacity to earn her livelihood. Though a person may be educationally well-qualified for any job or may be eligible to perform a particular job, or may be capable to apply for any post or job, either in private or any other nature of establishments, but still she may be unable to maintain herself.
The court noted that by mere possession of educational qualification itself, one cannot jump to a conclusion that such a qualification holder, particularly a wife under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., is able to maintain herself. It also remarked,
There may be several reasons for a woman even to resign from a job in which she worked at one particular point of time and expect her husband to maintain her. Unless it is brought on record through cogent evidence that such an act of resigning from job or leaving avocation was only with an intention to compel her husband to pay her maintenance, which circumstances probably may warrant a different finding.
The court even added,
Otherwise it is not necessarily always, in cases where the wife is said to be possessing some educational qualification, which may fetch her some job or employment that she can be denied maintenance.
Justice Sastry was of the opinion that,
Though a person may have eligibility to be appointed in a post in any public office or may have a good educational qualification, but still, he/she may be unable to earn his/her livelihood because of lack of any employment or any inability to earn. It is in that context, the facts and circumstances of each and every case has to be analysed.
Following the above notes, the court considered the present case at hand and said,
In the facts and circumstances of the case on hand, though the present respondent is shown to be an M.A., M.Ed., graduate, but still, as observed above, and as has come out in her evidence, she could not get any job, which also has not been seriously considered by the petitioner husband. As such, it is also demonstrated by her that she was unable to maintain herself.
The matter was concluded on a note,
It is after considering all these aspects, the Family Court, after analysing the materials placed before it in its proper perspective, has arrived at a finding that, the petitioner before it, i.e. the wife was entitled for maintenance and the respondent therein (petitioner herein) was liable to pay maintenance to his wife (respondent herein) at the rate of Rs 3,000 per month from the date of the said petition.
Finally the Karnataka High Court also observed,
Giving maintenance to the wife is not merely a pleasure for the husband but it is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife, who herself is unable to maintain herself. In such a situation, if the wife has satisfied that she has got a valid reason to live separately or live away from her husband and when, she is unable to maintain herself, then it would be the duty of the husband to maintain her.
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