20 April 2022 12:30 PM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that a father cannot deny his responsibility to maintain his wife and daughter even if he has to take care of his parents. It thus upheld a Family Court order directing him to give maintenance to the wife and daughter.A Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna added that merely because the daughter is living with her maternal grandparents,...
The Delhi High Court has observed that a father cannot deny his responsibility to maintain his wife and daughter even if he has to take care of his parents. It thus upheld a Family Court order directing him to give maintenance to the wife and daughter.
A Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna added that merely because the daughter is living with her maternal grandparents, it cannot be said that the father stands absolved of his responsibility towards his child.
The Court was dealing with a plea filed by a husband challenging the order passed by a Family Court dated 21st February, 2022 directing him to pay maintenance in the sum of Rs. 20,000 per month to the wife and daughter under sec. 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
The appellant husband and respondent wife got married on 24th February, 2011 and were blessed with a daughter on 5th February, 2015. The relationship between the parties deteriorated over a period of time. However, in May, 2016, the appellant husband came to know that the wife was having an adulterous relationship with her cousin brother.
The husband had then left the matrimonial home on 22nd May, 2016 and shifted with his brother. Thereafter, he filed a Divorce Petition on the ground of cruelty and adultery which was pending adjudication before the Family Court.
The respondent wife, on the other hand, filed a complaint under sec. 12 of the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which was pending adjudication before the Mahila Court.
The respondent wife, in divorce petition, filed an application under sec. 24 of the Act claiming maintenance for herself and her daughter in the sum of Rs. 45,000 per month. The Family Court assessed the income of the appellant to be Rs. 1,09,000 per month and granted a sum of Rs. 20,000 per month as maintenance for the respondent and the daughter.
It was thus the case of the appellant husband that he had lost his job and was presently working as a freelance sales professional having an income of approximately Rs. 40,000 per month.
The Court said that the reason for providing maintenance under Code of Criminal Procedure was to address destitution and vagrancy which many a times, drives a person in desperation to commit crime.
"The objective was essentially to provide basic subsistence for survival as a preventive measure against commission of crime. The maintenance under Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is to give immediate succour to a women who is a victim of domestic violence," the Court said.
It added that under Hindu Maintenance and Adoption Act, 1956, the parties may establish their respective claims to maintenance according to their status after adducing evidence in a trial.
"The objective of Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is not to equalize the income of the spouses but is only intended to ensure that when matrimonial proceedings are filed, either party should not suffer due to paucity of a source of income and is provided maintenance to tie over the litigation expenses and also to meet the daily needs of the spouse," the Court said.
Noting that the appellant had also claimed his monthly expenditure to be Rs. 52,000 per month and claimed the responsibility of his aged parents and their medical bills, it was pointed by the respondent wife that father of the appellant was a pensioner getting pension and that all the medical bills of the parents were being reimbursed by his erstwhile employer.
"Moreover, even if it is accepted that appellant has to take care of the parents then too, he cannot deny his responsibility to maintain his wife and the daughter," the Court said.
Further noting that the appellant father had claimed that the daughter was not residing with the respondent wife but was living with the maternal grandparents, the Court observed:
"Even if the daughter is living with the grandparents, it cannot be said that the respondent stands absolved of his responsibility towards the child."
The Court noted that while the respondent wife may be qualified and may be earning about Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000 per month from her freelance work, however the said earnings cannot be considered sufficient to meet the day to day expenditure of herself and the daughter and also the litigation expenses.
"This is not a case where the respondent who has done M.Sc is sitting idle out of laziness or spite, but has been utilizing her skill and qualifications to work as freelance content writer and was earning about ₹10,000 to ₹12,000/- pr month. However, the earnings cannot be considered sufficient for her to meet the routine expenditure and also other incidental expenses of litigation," the Court said.
The Court thus concluded that the amount of monthly maintenance awarded by the Family Court for both the respondent wife as well as the daughter cannot be termed as exorbitant or excessive.
The plea was accordingly dismissed.
Case Title: X v. Y
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 345
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