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New use of alimony; cheating the taxman

Experts say, many women are misusing the provisions of getting alimony, which involves huge amounts of tax-free money, reports Paramita Ghosh.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2007 02:58 IST
Paramita Ghosh

A flat worth Rs 75 lakh and Rs 25 lakh in cash is what Mandira Suri (name changed) received as alimony this April. A political honcho's daughter got Rs 1.5 crore in alimony when her marriage to a shipping tycoon broke up. The fact that alimony is tax-free tips the balance further in favour of women.

With huge amounts of tax-free money involved, said a lawyer on condition of anonymity, "Many women are misusing these provisions, all because of Sections 498A and 406."

According to tax lawyer BS Sharda: "Alimony, the law and the manner in which it was made has triggered a crisis."

Sections 498A and 406, feels Sharda, have ensured that people are afraid of getting married. Under these sections, the husband's family can be harassed and booked on charges of 'cruelty'.

"Lawmakers have divorced themselves from reality. The Law Commission needs to examine this," Sharda added.

"Men get slapped with charges of neglecting guardianship and domestic violence during a divorce and Section 498A is often used as a bargaining chip for higher alimony," said lawyer Tarun Goombar.

Section 37 of the Special Marriage Act and Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) make post-divorce maintenance "unlimited and commensurate with the husband's status," said lawyer Vikas Pahwa. Are divorce laws then stacked against the man?

Swarup Sarkar, coordinator of Save Family Foundation, said: "Section 125 of the CrPC was a law passed in the 1970s allowing the woman, child and parent to claim maintenance but not the man. The fact that maintenance amounts were made unlimited in the 1990s could encourage foul play."