Neglect and desertion by husband entitles the estranged wife for suitable residential accommodation of her choice, ruled the Bombay high court last week.
“In view of the fact that the husband has failed and neglected to maintain his wife; and, in fact, has deserted and abandoned her, in law, the wife is entitled for a suitable residential accommodation of her own choice, where she can stay,” observed the court while.
The division bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice RY Ganoo directed the husband to provide within three months a suitable residential accommodation to his wife or pay her Rs 15 lakh with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from May 2001, when the wife moved Pune family court. He has also been directed to pay her Rs10 lakh by way of permanent alimony.
The bench also held that obstructing a wife from entering her matrimonial house disentitles husband for getting a decree of divorce.
“The husband has disentitled himself for a decree of divorce, having taken advantage of his own wrong by obstructing the wife from entering her matrimonial house to resume cohabitation with him,” the court observed while taking note of the fact that the 41-year-old businessman had made it impossible for the wife to resume cohabitation despite the decree for restitution issued by the family court.
Both spouses had moved the high court appealing an order of Pune family court issued in December 2002. The husband had challenged dismissal of his divorce petition, the wife for maintenance amount granted to her by the family court.
The family court had granted her Rs7,000 as monthly maintenance but had not dealt with her plea for Rs15 lakh in lieu of suitable residential accommodation, and Rs10 lakh towards lump sum alimony.
The high court granted both her pleas after taking into consideration that the woman was at the mercy of her parents, and the husband was financially sound to meet her demands.