The Delhi High Court has modified its orders issued on 14 January, 2015 and 29 May, 2017, and has made it non-mandatory to file affidavit of assets, income and expenditure along with the Petition and Written Statements in maintenance proceedings.
The Court had, on 14 January, 2015, laid down the guidelines for expeditious hearing and disposal of maintenance applications under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act. It had then formulated an affidavit of assets, income and expenditure to be filed by both the parties at the very threshold of the litigation. These guidelines were partly modified on 29 May, 2017, after receiving response from the lower Courts.
During a recent hearing, amicus curiae Sunil Mittal submitted that the filling of affidavits pertaining to assets, income and expenditure along with the Petition gives "undue advantage" to the Respondent. He further contended that substantive pleadings get delayed due to the time taken in collecting documents and filing affidavits.
Mr. Mittal had further suggested that in appropriate cases, Family Courts should have the discretion to dispense with the affidavit or modify the information required from the parties in the affidavit. He also pointed out that litigants belonging to the lowest strata of the society find it difficult to file such affidavits.
Taking these suggestions into consideration, Justice J.R. Midha observed, "On careful consideration of the suggestions of the Family Courts and the learned amicus curiae, this Court is of the view that the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure should be filed simultaneously by both the parties, after completion of pleadings in the maintenance application, to avoid any undue advantage to the party who files his/her affidavit of assets, income and expenditure later. The simultaneous filing of the affidavit after the completion of the pleadings in the maintenance application would also give reasonable time to the parties to prepare their affidavits and compile the relevant documents and would avoid the delays."
The Court then issued the following directions, which would be implemented with effect from 1 January, 2018:
"1. After completion of the pleadings in the maintenance application, both the parties shall simultaneously file their affidavits of assets, income and expenditure. It is clarified that the filing of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure shall not be mandatory to be filed along with the petition and the written statement, as directed earlier. After the completion of the pleadings, in the maintenance application, the Court shall fix the date for reconciliation and the parties shall simultaneously file their affidavits before the Family Court at the commencement of the reconciliation. In the event of the failure of the reconciliation efforts, the Court shall grant time to the parties to respond to the affidavits of the opposite parties and fix the case for hearing on the maintenance application.