The order is dated June 2021 where Madhya Pradesh High Court observed that compelling a married woman to live in her parental home after marriage amounts to cruelty. The court added that it cannot be said that she was living separately without reasonable reason.
An application for maintenance was filed by the respondent wife on the ground that she was harassed and beaten by her husband and in laws for the demand of dowry after which she was ousted from her matrimonial house and started residing in her parental home seven months prior to the filing of the said application.
A single judge bench comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia was dealing with a criminal revision petition challenging the Family Court’s order directing the husband to pay Rs 7,000 per month to wife under Section 125 CrPC.
Parties got married in 2013 and about seven months prior to filing of the application i.e. in the month of September 2017, the respondent alleged that she was ousted from her matrimonial house and thereafter, she is residing in her parental home.
It was also the wife’s case that in the meantime, neither the husband nor the in laws made any efforts to bring her back.
Submissions by Husband
On the other hand, the husband contested that both the parties are poor and since they were not in a position to bear the expenses of marriage, the same was performed in Sammelan without any dowry.
It was the case of the husband that the wife had resided in her matrimonial house for a period of four days and that she never allowed him to consummate the marriage and had allegedly questioned his potency.
Alleged Suppressed Income of Wife
The husband contended that his wife is an expert in stitching and is also running beauty parlour, thereby, earning Rupees thirty to forty thousand per month. She is maintaining her parents out of her own income that is why the parents of the respondent are not permitting her to come to her matrimonial home. It was further pleaded that in fact the parents of the respondent are insisting that the applicant should reside in the parental home of the respondent as Gharjamai. When the applicant refused to do so, then a false criminal case under Section 498A of IPC was instituted against the applicant and his family members.
Alleged Demand By Wife’s Family
According to the husband, whenever he informed his in-laws about wife’s cruel behavior, every time they would tell him that if he wanted to leave their daughter, then he can do so but he has to pay up an amount of Rs 15 to 20 lakh.
Dowry Harassment Charges (Section 498A)
The husband further submitted that they were acquitted for the offence under Section 498A IPC (dowry harassment) and when he had visited his wife’s home to bring her back, he was alleged disrespected by his in-laws. The wife concurred with the acquittal order and also accepted that their marriage has not been consummated so far.
The family court had reasoned that it cannot be said that the wife was residing separately without any reasonable reason and had also found that the she was unable to maintain herself as she wasn’t doing any work.
Challenging the said order, it was submitted by the husband that Rs 7000 maintenance amount per month was on a higher side as he was a student working part time in a shop.
Madhya Pradesh High Court
Considering the facts of the case, the high court thus observed,
Under these circumstances, this Court of the considered opinion that after having levelled serious allegations against her and her parents and having failed to prove the same, it cannot be said that the respondent is residing separately without any reasonable reason.
Adding further on 498A acquittal, court said,
It is true that the applicant has been acquitted for offence under Section 498A of IPC. However, it is equally true that the applicant had levelled serious allegations against the respondent and her parents.
However, the applicant did not file even a single document to show that he had ever lodged any report regarding the illegal confinement or mal-treatment by the respondent her parents. Levelling serious allegations and failing to prove the same, may also amount to cruelty.
Furthermore, it said,
Thus, it is also clear that the applicant (husband) has deserted the respondent (wife) and he cannot take advantage of his own wrong. Further, compelling a married women to live in her parental home, is also a cruelty. Accordingly, it is held that it cannot be said that the respondent is residing separately without any reasonable reason.
If the husband is healthy and is an able bodied person, then he is under legal obligation to support his wife.
Affirming the order passed by the Family Court, the Court ordered thus:
It appears that by order dated 06/02/2019, Court had below awarded an amount of Rs 3,000 by way of interim maintenance. Accordingly, it is directed that the amount paid by the applicant by way of interim maintenance is liable to be adjust in the arrears of maintenance amount.
The petition was accordingly dismissed.
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