The Delhi High Court recently reiterated the principle that a spouse cannot be exempted from contributing towards maintenance of a minor child even if the other spouse, with whom the child stays, earns sufficiently well.
"It is a settled principle of law that both the parents have a legal, moral and social duty to provide to their child the best education and standard of living within their means. The mere fact that the spouse with whom the child is living is having a source of income, even if sufficient, would in no way absolve the other spouse of his obligation to make his contribution towards the maintenance and welfare of the child," Justice I.S. Mehta observed.
The Court had been petitioned by the husband, challenging an order passed by the Single Judge who had upheld an order of interim maintenance of Rs. 40,000 per month to the wife in an application filed under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The wife had complained against her husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, alleging that they were harassing her for dowry.
The Petitioner had now submitted that this amount was too high and that the impugned order was rendered in a mechanical manner. He had further brought to the notice of the Court that his wife was earning sufficiently well and was capable of maintaining herself and her minor child.
The wife, on the other hand, had challenged the Petition, contending that the Petitioner was under a legal obligation to maintain her and her minor child.
Agreeing with such contentions, the Court observed, "Since the respondent and her minor child are to be maintained by the petitioner, in the absence of denial of existence of the marriage and denial of paternity of the minor child, the petitioner cannot shy away from his statutory obligation of maintaining his legally wedded wife and his minor child."
It, thereafter, dismissed the Petition and directed the Trial Court to dispose of the wife's Application under Section 12 of DV Act as soon as possible, preferably within a period of six months.