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Either Of The Spouse Can Claim Alimony Under Sec 25 HMA : Bombay High Court Directs Wife To Pay Maintenance To Husband

Sharmeen Hakim
1 April 2022 6:52 AM GMT
Either Of The Spouse Can Claim Alimony Under Sec 25 HMA : Bombay High Court Directs Wife To Pay Maintenance To Husband
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In a rare instance the Bombay High Court upheld two orders of the civil court in Nanded, directing a wife, working as a teacher, to pay Rs 3,000 maintenance to her husband by directing the school principal to deduct Rs. 5000 from her salary towards unpaid maintenance since August 2017. Justice Bharati Dangre rejected the wife's contention that since the couple's marriage had ended with...

In a rare instance the Bombay High Court upheld two orders of the civil court in Nanded, directing a wife, working as a teacher, to pay Rs 3,000 maintenance to her husband by directing the school principal to deduct Rs. 5000 from her salary towards unpaid maintenance since August 2017.

Justice Bharati Dangre rejected the wife's contention that since the couple's marriage had ended with a divorce decree in 2015, after nearly 23 years, the husband couldn't now seek monthly maintenance.

The court relied on Section 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act to state that they confer a right on the needy spouse to claim interim or permanent alimony, where a decree of restitution of conjugal rights or divorce has been passed.

"The scope of Section 25 of the Act of 1955 cannot be constricted by not making it applicable to a decree of divorce being passed between the husband and wife….The provision of maintenance / permanent alimony being a beneficial provision for the indigent (needy) spouse, can be invoked by either of the spouse, where a decree of any kind governed by Sections 9 to 13 has been passed and marriage tie is broken, disrupted or adversely affected by such decree of the court."

Facts of the Case

The couple married on April 17, 1992 were divorced after the wife approached the court alleging cruelty in 2015. After the divorce the husband filed a petition seeking perpetual alimony of Rs 15,000 per month from the wife.

The husband claimed that he did not have any source of income while his wife was an M.A., B.Ed. and is employed at a University. He specifically claimed that in order to encourage the wife to obtain the degree, he managed the house, keeping aside his own ambition. Moreover, that the divorce had caused him great embarrassment. The husband also cited his ill health possession of no immovable properties.

However, the wife claimed that the husband was running a grocery shop as well as an auto rickshaw, and earns income by leasing out the same. Moreover, she also had the responsibility to care for their daughter.

The judge however said that the husband's petition under section 24 of the Act, by which the spouse claims interim litigation expenses, is maintainable. Therefore, it ordered her to pay maintenance of Rs. 3000 till the permanent alimony plea is decided.

In another order the court directed the headmaster to deposit money to the court with arrears.

Arguments

The wife's counsel argued that after the decree of divorce, proceedings for permanent alimony and maintenance under Section 25 of the Act of 1955, are not maintainable. He called it a "travesty of justice."

However, the husband's counsel claimed that the Section 25 proceedings were not dependent on the divorce since the section use the word "at any time subsequent thereto."

Observations

The bench reproduced section 25, which states that an application for alimony can be sought at any time. Therefore, the divorce did not bar the court from entertaining the application. "The scope of Section 25, therefore, cannot be restricted by holding that on divorce / dissolution of marriage, the wife or the husband cannot bring such proceedings."

The bench finally said that the civil judge had rightly entertained the plea for interim maintenance under section 24.

"Since Section 25 has to be looked upon as a provision for destitute wife/husband the provisions will have to be construed widely so as to salvage the remedial intailments, the contention of the learned counsel cannot be accepted and it is open for the court to decide the application filed by the husband under Section 25 of the 1955 Act…The application for interim maintenance filed under Section 24 of the Act of 1955, has been rightly entertained by the learned Judge and the husband has been held entitled to interim maintenance while the proceedings under Section 25 are pending."

Case Title : Bhagyashri v Jagdish

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 112

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