A family court at Muzaffarnagar District in Uttar Pradesh has directed a woman to pay a monthly maintenance allowance to her husband, the PTI reports.
The woman, who is a government pensioner, and her husband have been living separately for many years and the latter had filed a petition in 2013 under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking maintenance from his wife.
The Family Court allowed his petition and directed the woman to pay Rs 1,000 per month to him as maintenance allowance. The court noted that she was a retired government servant and is getting Rs 12,000 pension per month.
Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act reads thus: Where in any proceeding under this Act it appears to the court that either the wife or the husband, as the case may be, has no independent income sufficient for her or his support and the necessary expenses of the proceeding, it may, on the application of the wife or the husband, order the respondent to pay to the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding, and monthly during the proceeding such sum as, having regard to the petitioner's own income and the income of the respondent, it may seem to the court to be reasonable.
Section 25 of the Act deals with Permanent alimony and maintenance and provides that both the husband and wife can seek it.
The Rajasthan High Court in Govind Singh v. Smt. Vidya (AIR 1999 Rajasthan 304) has held that Section 24 entitles either party to move an application for maintenance provided such party has no means of subsistence and the other party is in a position to provide maintenance. "But it does not mean that the husband who is otherwise capable of earning his living should stop earning the living and start depending on the earning of the wife...It is well established maxim of Anglo Saxon jurisprudence that no person can be allowed to incapacitate himself. That maxim is applicable to the case of earning husband. A person who voluntarily incapacitates himself from earning is not entitled to claim maintenance from the other spouse'.", the court had clarified while dismissing a husband's plea seeking maintenance. This view was followed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Yashpal Singh Thakur vs Smt. Anjana Rajput : AIR 2001 MP 67.
In V.M. Nivya v. N.K. Shivaprasad, the Kerala High Court considered a challenge against a Family Court order awarding maintenance to a husband. The Court, referring to Section 24 and the above High Court judgments observed: "It is clear from Section 24 that a petition can be filed by either wife or husband who is without any employment and no source of income to support pendente lite maintenance and litigation expenses from the other spouse, who is capable of providing the same. So a petition filed by the husband for this purpose is perfectly maintainable by virtue of the wordings of Section 24 of the Act.". While setting aside the Family Court order, the High court also observed that it is not a normal practice of husband applying for maintenance from the wife who is employed though he is capable of maintaining himself by doing some work.
In Rani Sethi vs Sunil Sethi, the Delhi High Court upheld a Trial Court order which directed a wife to pay maintenance to the husband @ `20,000/-, per month, and `10,000/- as litigation expenses and also to provide Zen Car for the use of the husband. "The purpose of section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act is to provide support to a spouse who has no independent source of income and is incapable of maintaining himself/herself. It is trite law that the term "support‟ is not to be construed in a narrow manner so as to mean bare subsistence. It means that the other spouse, who has no independent source of income, is provided with such maintenance so as to live in a similar status as was enjoyed by them in their matrimonial home. It is the purpose of section 24 that the wife or the husband who has no sufficient source of income for her or his support or for the expenses of the proceedings must be provided with such reasonable sum that strikes equity between the spouses.", the Court had observed.