The High Court of Kerala recently quashed a husband’s claim for maintenance, observing that maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act is to be paid to the husband only when he is able to prove any incapability or handicap.
The Bench comprising Justice A.M. Shaffique and Justice K. Ramakrishnan further observed that in the absence of such circumstances, endowing maintenance on the husbands would promote “idleness” among them.
The Court was hearing a Petition filed by a 24-year-old woman from Nellikunnu in Kasaragod, challenging the Family Court’s order to pay maintenance of Rs. 6,000 per month to her estranged husband. The application for maintenance was filed by the husband after the wife approached Family Court, Kasaragod for dissolution of marriage under Section 13 (1) (ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act, on the ground of infliction of cruelty by the husband.
The Court, at the outset, noted that a Petition for maintenance can be filed by the husband as well, by virtue of Section 24 of the Act. It, however, observed that a husband seeking maintenance from the wife “can be treated only as exceptional case as normally he had got the liability or obligation to maintain the wife and vice versa is only exceptional.”
The Bench further observed, “In the case of wife filing an application for maintenance from the husband, unless he is able to establish that he is permanently disabled from getting any income, he cannot be exonerated from the payment of maintenance to his wife. The same principle has to be extended in a case where he is seeking maintenance from the wife.”
It then went on to observed that the lower Court had failed to note that there was no evidence to support the contention that the husband was incapable of being employed, or that he had any handicap or impediment to earn.
The Court, thereafter, quashed the order of maintenance passed by the lower Court, and observed, “If such an attitude has been taken by the Courts, then idleness of husbands will be promoted and they will be tempted not to do any work and depend on the wife for their livelihood, and such thing is not expected to be promoted in the society and that was not the intention of Section 24 of the Act providing maintenance to either party to the proceedings. It was intended to support only such spouse who is really incapable of maintaining himself/herself to get something for their sustenance and to conduct the litigation which they were forced to face from the other party to the proceedings who is capable of supporting the other spouse and nothing more.”
Read the Judgment here.