A man cannot refuse to pay maintenance to his estranged wife on the ground that she is capable of maintaining herself, a Delhi court has said.
"The capacity to earn cannot be equated with ability to maintain oneself," Additional Sessions Judge R K Jain said, rejecting an appeal of a man, who had contended that his estranged wife was qualified enough and could very well look after herself.
"The phrase 'unable to maintain herself' means that the woman is not able to maintain herself at the particular time, but it does not mean that she should go out to search work and maintain herself because man herein has neglected to do so," the court observed.
It said the Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, dealing with maintenance, provides for speedy remedy for supply of food, clothing and shelter to a deserted wife.
"If the husband has sufficient means and wife is unable to maintain herself, the wife is entitled to maintenance and interim maintenance also," the court said.
The judge dismissed an appeal of the man challenging a Metropolitan Magistrate's order directing him to pay Rs 4,500 to his estranged wife as monthly maintenance.
The man claimed that his wife used to earn Rs 10,500 per month by working at Old Secretariat in New Delhi but due to her pregnancy she lost her job. He submitted that she was competent to get an employment again and maintain herself.