A city court asked a woman to look for a job, saying she was qualified and capable and should not put financial burden on her estranged husband, a decision that could spur a debate on India’s alimony system.
The man agreed to help her find employment and pay maintenance for a year.
The court’s observation came on an appeal filed by the man against paying Rs 12,000 a month to support his wife.
“The respondent (woman) admitted being more qualified than the appellant (man). She admitted to being able-bodied and having capacity to earn. As such, she cannot be allowed to sit idle at home to put financial burden on the appellant,” said district judge Rekha Rani. “Let her make sincere endeavour to find work.”
Under the Indian legal system, a separation or divorce entitles a woman to maintenance from her spouse, in the form of financial support.
“If the woman needs assistance of the appellant in finding a job, she may communicate with him (the estranged husband) by sending SMS on mobile/email,” the court said.
The woman had argued that, though she was better qualified, she married young and never held a job or even travelled alone.
However, the man said his estranged wife was not entitled to monetary relief as she was more qualified than him. His appeal pointed out that she was an MSc gold medallist. He alleged she had not applied for a job anywhere and wanted to sit idle and remain a financial burden on him.
On the woman’s submission that she had never travelled alone and wanted the man to go with her on job searches, the court said “the submission is neither palatable nor digestible”.
“Both are coming to the court separately. If she can come to the court to fight litigation alone, she can go alone to search for a job as well,” the judge observed.
The man told the court he was willing to accompany her and assist her in whatever way she needed to find work.
“The man has agreed to pay her maintenance of Rs 12,000 per month for one year and during this period, she should make sincere efforts and start working,” the judge said.