Divorced woman struggling to find a shelter despite getting alimony have been offered succour by the Supreme Court which has held that the maintenance given to them by their divorced husbands should include provision for residence.
"Maintenance, as we see it, necessarily must encompass a provision for residence. Maintenance is given so that the lady can live in the manner, more or less to which she was accustomed," a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma observed.
The bench passed the observation while dealing with an appeal filed by Komalam Amma in a civil suit.
According to the apex court, the provision for residence may be made either by giving lumpsum money, or property in lieu thereof. It may also be made by providing, for the course of the lady's life, a residence and money for other necessary expenditure, the bench said.
Quoting Mulla's Hindu Law, the apex court said that in a Hindu undivided family (HuF) the kartha (manager) of a joint Miakshara family is under an obligation to maintain all male members of the family, their wives and their children.
"On the death of any one of the male members he is bound to maintain his widow and his children. The obligation to maintain these persons arise from the fact that the manager is in possession of the family property," the bench said.
The apex court said that a wife is entitled to be maintained by her husband, whether he possesses property or not.
"When a man with his eyes open marries a girl accustomed to certain style of living, he undertakes the obligation of maintaining her in that style," the apex court said quoting Mulla's Hindu Law.
The bench said the maintenance to be allowed to a widow should be such an amount as will enable her to live consistently with her position as a widow, with the same degree of comfort and reasonable luxury as she had in her husband's house; unless there are circumstances which affect one way or the other, her mode of living there.