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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Supreme Court to decide if a woman who leaves husband should get maintenance

The matter was heard on October 4 by a bench of justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph that issued a notice to the wife, asking her to appear before it.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2019 06:12 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar/New Delhi
The couple separated after a dispute between the two, said the husband. In his appeal
The couple separated after a dispute between the two, said the husband. In his appeal(HT image)
         

The Supreme Court will look into the question of whether a wife who leaves her matrimonial home of her own free will, without any ”sufficient reason”, is entitled to maintenance from her husband.

The issue was brought before the top court by a man from Uttar Pradesh, who appealed against a July 19 order by the Allahabad High Court that directed him to pay an interim compensation of Rs 20,000 per month to his estranged wife.

The matter was heard on October 4 by a bench of justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph that issued a notice to the wife, asking her to appear before it. It ordered the husband to continue paying Rs 10,000 every month until the hearing was complete, and stayed the payment of the balance monthly amount for now.

The couple separated after a dispute between the two, said the husband. In his appeal, the husband has contended that since the wife left the matrimonial home willingly, it was not a case of desertion by him, and therefore, he should be freed from paying maintenance.

The Allahabad high court granted the wife maintenance under Section 125 of the criminal procedure code (CrPc). Under this provision, an aggrieved wife, a minor, or dependent parents of a man can file an application before a trial court seeking financial help from him.

As per the husband’s appeal, a matrimonial court in April held that his wife left the matrimonial home without sufficient reasons but directed him to pay a monthly interim maintenance of Rs 20,000. The high court upheld the direction on an appeal filed by the man.

In his petition to the Supreme Court, the man cited Section 9 of the Hindu Marriages Act, which allows either spouse to seek a direction against the defaulting partner to restore conjugal rights. The findings of the matrimonial and high courts are contrary to this provision, the appellant contended before the Supreme Court.

While admitting the appeal and agreeing to hear the matter at length, the Supreme Court bench noted that different high courts and matrimonial courts have been passing conflicting directions on this issue.

“The learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the findings in the proceeding under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 are that the respondent-wife is staying away from the matrimonial home without any sufficient reason,” the SC bench recorded in its October 4 order.

“Learned counsel has drawn our attention to subsection 4 of Section 125 of CrPc to contend that there is no liability of the petitioner to pay maintenance in case wife is staying away without any sufficient reason. We are faced with the scenario where there are conflicting views taken by the courts in proceedings under Section 125 CrPc and under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, and the impugned order of the High Court in the Revision Petition does not really add to the discussion,” the order added.

Senior Supreme Court advocate Aishwarya Bhatti feels the law is already settled in the matter. According to her the law under CrPc is meant for the destitute and is not just restricted to women in particular. “Reasons for grant of maintenance is not needed under this law. It’s important for maintenance under personal law such as the Hindu law,” she said.