The Karnataka High Court has said that if a wife is directed to pay maintenance to an able bodied husband who does not suffer from any disability or infirmity, it would be promoting idleness.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna made it clear that “Merely because Section 24 of (Hindu Marriage) Act is gender neutral for grant of maintenance, it would be promoting idleness notwithstanding the fact that the husband has no impediment or handicap to earn.”
The bench made the observation while upholding an order passed by the family court, granting maintenance of Rs 10,000 and litigation expense of Rs 25,000 to the wife and rejecting the application made by the husband seeking monthly maintenance of Rs.2,00,000 and litigation expenses at Rs.30,000, from the wife.
The primary contention of the husband was that he has become unemployed on the onset of Covid-19 and for the last two years he is not able to find a job and, therefore, no maintenance should be awarded to the wife, but in turn it should be awarded to him, from the hands of the wife.
Further, it was claimed that the parents of the wife are well off and that the wife has instituted several proceedings against the husband and his family members thus he has to meet those litigation expenses.
The bench considering the records observed “The contention that the petitioner has no job and has no means to maintain himself and, therefore, is not in a position to maintain the wife and in turn wants maintenance from the wife, is unacceptable as it is fundamentally flawed.”
Following which it held “Merely because he has lost his job on the onset of Covid19, it cannot be held that he is incapable of earning. Therefore, it can be irrefutably concluded that the husband by his own conduct has decided to lead a leisurely life by seeking maintenance from the hands of the wife.”
It added “In the considered view of this Court, such an application cannot be granted, as the husband cannot afford to incapacitate himself and sustain an application under Section 24 of the Act to claim maintenance from the hands of the husband. This would be an anathema to the spirit of Section 24 of the Act. Therefore, the husband cannot seek any maintenance unless he would demonstrate such a disability either physical or mental which incapacitates him from earning money by finding a job for himself.”
Noting that it is the duty of an able bodied husband to maintain himself, the wife and the child, if any, the bench opined “‘It is better to wear out, than rust out.”
Accordingly it dismissed the petition.
Case Title: XYZ And ABC
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO. 24226 OF 2022
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 24
Date of Order: 10-01-2023
Appearance: Advocate Shivaraju M K for petitioner; Advocate Madhu R for respondent.