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IT Returns May Not Reflect True Picture, Court Has To Take Lifestyle Into Account: Bombay HC On Maintenance

Nitish Kashyap
9 Oct 2017 4:31 AM GMT
IT Returns May Not Reflect True Picture, Court Has To Take Lifestyle Into Account: Bombay HC On Maintenance
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Allowing a petition seeking enhancement of maintenance amount, the Bombay High Court doubled the amount holding that the respondent husband made every attempt to conceal his income in order to avoid paying maintenance for his two children and their mother.

Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi was hearing a writ petition challenging an order of the family court dated May 5, 2016, filed under S.125 of CrPC wherein an interim maintenance amount of Rs. 5,000 each was awarded to the petitioner and her two minor children.

Case Background

It was submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the respondent husband had gold and silver business. He had three shops, situated at South Mumbai’s Colaba Market. He owned 5 flats and his monthly income was more than Rs. 20 lakh per month hence, the maintenance amount was insufficient and an amount of Rs. 2 lakh per month should be paid.

However, the respondent’s counsel strongly resisted this argument and submitted that his client had produced his Income Tax Returns, which show that his income was between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 per month. Also, that the respondent was not the owner, but merely a part of a family business working as an employee drawing of salary of Rs. 20,000 per month.

Referring to the family court order, the high court said the respondent owns various assets, including securities worth Rs. 5 lakh and other assets worth Rs. 22.55 lakh.

The court noted that the returns clearly indicated that the respondent and his family were earning a substantial income.

“Needless to state, that whatever income is given to the Income Tax Authorities in the 'Returns' may not be necessarily reflecting the true picture and, therefore, Court has to take into consideration the lifestyle of the parties and all other aspects. If one considers the same, then, it goes without saying that, Respondent No. 2 has made every attempt to conceal his real income, just in order to avoid the payment of maintenance,” the court said.

Supreme Court and Final Judgment

In the said case of X vs Y, the apex court had observed:

It has now become a matter of routine that as and when an application for maintenance is filed, the non-applicant becomes poor displaying that he is not residing with the family members, if they have a good business and movable and immovable properties, in order to avoid payment of maintenance. Courts cannot, under these circumstances, close their eyes when tricks are being played in a clever manner.”

Thus, considering the expenses associated with two school-going children, the court allowed the petition enhancing the monthly maintenance amount to Rs. 10,000 each.

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