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Only a ‘destitute woman’ can can seek maintenance from husband: Bombay high court

Mumbai city news: The court struck down an order granting monthly maintenance of Rs1,500 to a divorced woman, although she was earning Rs 8,000 per month.

mumbai Updated: Jun 24, 2017 22:31 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Bombay high court,Section 125
(HT File)

Only a destitute woman can seek maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) only if she is unable to maintain herself, the Bombay high court has held.

Justice KK Tated struck down an October 2014 order of a Judicial Magistrate at Sawantwadi granting monthly maintenance of Rs1,500 to a divorced woman, although she was earning Rs 8,000 per month by working as nurse in a government scheme.

“Bare reading of Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure shows that the court can award maintenance to the wife in case she is unable to maintain herself,” said Justice Tated. Thus, only a destitute woman who is unable to maintain herself can take recourse to the section.

The couple had tied the knot in the last week of June 2007 and barely a fortnight later, the wife had packed her belongings and left the matrimonial home. Subsequently, the husband a filed divorce petition and in January 2010 got an ex-parte decree, as no one appeared on behalf of the wife. In August 2010, the husband got married for the second time.

In June 2012, the wife approached the magistrate court at Sindhudurg, seeking monthly maintenance under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and acting on her application, in October 2014, the magistrate court ordered the husband to pay her monthly maintenance of Rs 1,500.

The husband approached the high court challenging the magistrate court order after his appeal against it came to be dismissed by Sindhudurg sessions court. The husband’s lawyer, advocate Sara Hakim, argued that since the wife was gainfully employed and was earning Rs8,000 per month, she was not entitled to seek recourse to section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which applies only to destitute women.

The court found substance in the argument. It noted that evidence on record of the case clearly showed that the wife was earning Rs8000 per month, whereas her husband being an LIC agent did not have any permanent income. Justice Tated struck down the lower court orders as “these facts were not considered by both the courts below.”

First Published: Jun 21, 2017 16:29 IST