[2015] 1 SHR 50

[CRIMINAL APPEAL NO: 564-565-2015]
6 APRIL 2015

MARRIAGE: Maintenance - Reduction in amount of maintenance - Respondent a retired military officer - Whether High Court's order of reducing maintenance allowance was sustainable - Whether there was justification to reduce maintenance

The appellant wife ('the appellant') and the respondent husband ('the respondent') were married on 26 April 1992. During her stay at the matrimonial home, the appellant was prohibited from talking to others, and the respondent not only demanded a car from the family but also started to harass the appellant. Later, the appellant came to learn that the respondent was having an affair with another woman. As the situation gradually worsened, the appellant left the matrimonial home. The appellant filed an application for grant of maintenance at the rate of Rs.4,000 per month on the basis that the respondent was working on the post of Nayak in the army and received salary as well as other perks. The Family Court decided in favour of the appellant and directed the respondent to pay a sum of Rs.2,500 as monthly maintenance allowance from the date of submission of application till the date of judgment and thereafter Rs.4,000 per month from the date of judgment till the date of remarriage. In the criminal revision before the High Court, the learned judge took note that the respondent had retired on 1 April 2012 and consequently reduced the monthly maintenance allowance by 50% to Rs.2,000. The issue that arose was whether the High Court's order of reducing the maintenance allowance after the retirement of the respondent was sustainable.

Held (allowing appeal with no order as to costs; setting aside orders of High Court)

Per Dipak Misra J delivering the judgment of the court:

(1) In today's world, it is extremely difficult to conceive that the respondent would be in a position to manage within Rs. 2,000 per month. A woman, who is constrained to leave the marital home, should not be allowed to feel that she has fallen from grace and move hither and thither arranging for sustenance. As per law, she is entitled to lead a life in the similar manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband. As long as the wife is held entitled to grant of maintenance within the parameters of s. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it has to be adequate so that she can live with dignity as she would have lived in her matrimonial home. (para 15)

(2) Sometimes, a plea is advanced by the husband that he does not have the means to pay, for he does not have a job or his business is not doing well. These are only bald excuses and have no acceptability in law. It is the obligation of the husband to maintain his wife. He cannot be permitted to plead that he is unable to maintain the wife due to financial constraints as long as he is capable of earning. Solely because the husband had retired, there was no justification to reduce the maintenance by 50%. It is not a huge fortune that was showered on the wife that it deserved reduction. It only reflects the non-application of mind. Hence, this court was unable to sustain the said order. (paras 15, 16 & 19)

Case(s) referred to:

Anita Rani v. Rakeshpal Singh 1991 (2) Crimes 725 (All) (refd)

Ashutosh Tripathi v. State of U.P. 1999 (2) 763, Allahabad JIC (refd)

Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena and Ors AIR 2014 SC 2875 (refd)

Chander Prakash Bodhraj v. Shila Rani Chander Prakash AIR 1968 Delhi 174 (refd)

Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai (2008) 2 SCC 316 (refd)

Danial Latifi v. Union of India (2001) 7 SCC 740 (refd)

Dharmendra Kumar Gupta v. Chander Prabha Devi 1990 Cr.L.J. 1884 (refd)

Jabsir Kaur Sehgal v. District Judge Dehradun & Ors (1997) 7 SCC 7 (refd)

Khatoon Nisa v. State of U.P. (2014) 12 SCC 646 (refd)

Paras Nath Kurmi v. The Session Judge 1999 (2) JIC 522 (All) (refd)

Rakesh Kumar Dikshit v. Jayanti Devi 1999 (2) JIC 323 (ACC) (refd)

Sartaj v. State of U.P. and Others 2000 (2) JIC 967 (All) (refd)

Shamim Bano v. Asraf Khan [2015] 1 SHR 74 (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Code of Criminal Procedure [Ind], s. 125


For the appellant - J.N. Dubey

Reported by Shah Saharudin

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