On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India ordered a man to pay up Rs 4 crore as divorce settlement to his wife and children. The court remarked that he can divorce his wife but cannot divorce his children and directed him to pay the total amount within six weeks.
The top court also exercised its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution and granted divorce by mutual consent to the couple, staying separately since 2019.
The couple has been estranged since 2019 and have two children — a boy and a girl. Their custody terms have been agreed by both the parents.
The husband, who is in the gems and jewellery business in Mumbai, paid Rs 1 crore on the day the settlement was reached and he had to pay Rs 4 crore on the day he would have got the decree of divorce.
According tot he husband, the agreement was reached between the parties in August 2019 and had it not been the onset of pandemic, the husband would have paid the entire agreed amount in 2019 itself.
The counsel for husband claimed that after the agreement was reached between them, his business has taken a turn around and is facing insolvency proceedings. He said,
I am not saying I will not pay but give me some time to pay the amount. I will pay one crore in one month and thereafter I will pay another one crore after three months.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said that all other conditions of settlements, reached between the estranged couple will be followed as per the agreement.
During the hearing, counsel appearing for the husband said that in the mediation proceedings, a settlement has been reached between both the parties but he needed some more time to pay Rs 4 crore amount to her, as due to the pandemic his business has enormously suffered.
The bench told the husband,
You yourself have agreed in the settlement that the day decree of divorce will be granted, you will be paying her Rs 4 crore. Now this financial constraint argument will not hold good.
Adding further, the bench said,
You can divorce your wife but you cannot divorce your children as you have given birth to them. You have to take care of them. You will have to pay her the amount to maintain herself and the minor children.
The apex court directed the husband to pay Rs 1 crore by September 1, 2021 and another Rs 3 crore by September 30, 2021. The top court also quashed the cases and legal proceedings initiated by the couple against each other and the in-laws.
- Divorce has been reduced to a mere financial settlement, where only and only the husband is the provider, irrespective of whose fault in the marriage
- On one side, courts ensure that women do not face single hardship during the pandemic times, enjoy same maintenance amounts awarded prior to COVID-19, and on other hand, they expect the men to pay up enormous sums, without any consideration on the impact of professional lives or business
- The court has also quashed cases and legal proceedings by the couple against each and the in-laws; Does this mean these cases were filed only to pressurise the man for paying up?
- What is the message given by our judiciary? Such kind of financial settlements misusing gender biased laws, will only be an encouragement for every woman to file false cases and make the man “settle”
- If the man has wronged, action must be taken against him without quashing of cases, which could be of serious nature
- We will never see women rights champions demanding such justice, because in the end, justice for most of them is about “money” or “alimony”
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