A woman is entitled to “periodical payments” in case her husband refuses to live with her despite court order for restitution of conjugal rights, the Bombay High Court has observed.
The high court also held that family courts were empowered to issue orders to husbands to pay such periodical payments irrespective of whether he willfully disobeyed the ruling for restitution of conjugal rights or not.
The husband, in the case the high court was hearing, had challenged November 2009 order of the Bandra family court directing him to pay Rs 20,000 to his wife every month for failing to comply with the court’s order.
His wife had moved the family court seeking decree for restitution of conjugal rights after the couple, which married in April 1996, started living separately.
In October 2002, the Bandra family court granted her decree while a divorce petition filed by the husband came to be dismissed.
The wife waited for nearly five years for the husband to comply with the order. In October 2007, she moved the family court again seeking execution of the decree contending the husband wasn’t willing to living with her despite the court order.
Acting on her plea, the family court ordered for her husband to pay her monthly “periodical payment” of Rs 20,000 for failing to comply with the decree for restitution of conjugal rights.
The high court, however, reduced the monthly amount to Rs 12,000 saying same yardstick as applied while deciding amount of maintenance should be applied while fixing such payments.
Justice Abhay Oak noted: “Had the decree for restitution of conjugal rights been implemented, the wife could have enjoyed the status of her husband so far his income is considered.”
The judge, however, cautioned that the amount cannot be arbitrary and unjustifiable. “The wife is entitled to say that she must have the same lifestyle as that of her husband,” observed Justice Oak.
“But while fixing the amount it cannot be that the wife gets more than what the husband will retain after making a monthly payment to her.”