The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday observed that merely the fact that the wife is earning would not dis-entitle her from claiming maintenance from her husband. The Court opined that the charge of desertion cannot become a ground so as to enable the husband to disqualify the wife from claiming the amount of monthly maintenance, in any manner whatsoever.
Essentially, the marriage of the parties was solemnized on 27.05.2010 at Bikaner; thereafter, the couple went to reside in the USA. Out of the said wedlock, Master Anay (son) was born on 21.05.2011. On account of the alleged disharmony in their matrimonial relationship, the wife left her matrimonial home at USA on 13.11.2013 and came back to India alongwith the son. Later, the wife filed an application against the husband under Section 125 Cr.P.C. which was allowed by the trial court on 30.08.2018, while awarding a monthly maintenance to the wife and son, to the tune of Rs.50,000/- and Rs.20,000/- (totalling Rs.70,000/-).
The petitioner-wife has preferred the present criminal revision petition challenging the said order while making prayer only to the extent that the amount of monthly maintenance be enhanced to Rs.2,50,000/- (for wife) and Rs.1,30,000/- (for son). In contrast, the husband sought quashing and setting aside the said order.
Dr. Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhati, while disposing of the petition, observed,
"After hearing learned counsel for the parties as well as perusing the record of the case along with the precedent laws cited at the Bar, this Court holds that merely the fact that the wife is earning would not dis-entitle her from the maintenance. The husband himself has taken the divorce on 29.04.2015, fact not in dispute, and therefore, the charge of desertion cannot become a ground so as to enable the husband to disqualify the wife from claiming the amount of monthly maintenance, in any manner whatsoever."
The court noted that the trial court had rightly arrived at a considered decision. The court deemed it appropriate to enhance the monthly maintenance payable by husband to the wife and son, considering the cost of living at Hyderabad and the fact that both the husband and wife were maintaining a very good lifestyle in the USA.
Moreover, it was opined by the court that the husband is earning about Rs.12,00,000/- per month and the wife is earning Rs.85,000/- per month, and therefore, a very reasonable capacity of the husband to pay the maintenance should be 1/12th of his income, which shall take care of the husband's claim for high cost of living in USA.
In this regard, the court, while modifying the trial court's order, enhanced the amount of monthly maintenance to the wife and the son i.e. Rs.75000/- and Rs. 25000/- respectively.
The counsel for the husband submitted that the wife is earning Rs.85,000/- per month and staying at Hyderabad, and thus, competent to earn her own livelihood, while the husband does not oppose the maintenance granted to the son vide the impugned order. He also submitted that the wife deserted the husband of her own sweet and free will, and thus, she is not entitled for any kind of maintenance.
The counsel for the wife submitted that the husband is taking the plea of desertion by the wife, merely to deny maintenance to her, as awarded by the learned court below, whereas, he himself had sought divorce in the Court at USA and the same was ex parte done in favour of the husband on 29.04.2015, while passing the necessary decree. He placed reliance on Rajnesh v. Neha & Anr , whereby the Supreme Court observed that even if the wife is earning, then also she is entitled for the determination of maintenance, in accordance with the lifestyle of her husband in the matrimonial home.
Moreover, the wife's counsel submitted that the sustenance does not mean and cannot be allowed to mean a mere survival, and the lifestyle at Hyderabad, where the wife alongwith her son is presently residing, is very costly, and the son is also going in a good and reputed school at Hyderabad, the expenditure whereof is also too high. He also submitted that even if the wife is earning something, then also she is entitled to claim the necessary and adequate maintenance from her husband.
Adv. Parvej Moyal appeared for the wife while Adv. Shadan Farasat a/w Adv. Harshit Bhurani appeared for the husband.
Case Title: Neha Mathur & Anr. v. Dr. Arvind Kishore with connected matter
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Raj) 174