Not paying maintenance to wife causes “Economic Abuse”: Tripura High Court

Denial of maintenance to wife causes “Economic abuse” under section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act. Tripura High Court gave the decision and upheld the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge in the case of Ramendra Kishore Bhattacharjee vs. Smt.Madhurima Bhattacharjee [Crl.Rev.P.No.36 of 2020] by the bench of Hon’ble Justice SG Chattopadhyay.

According to the facts of the above-cited case, the wife of the petitioner had filed an application under the Domestic Violence Act against her husband for seeking relief. She had contended that her husband abused and assaulted her for dowry & also developed an extra-marital affair. Later on, she took a divorce from the petitioner. The petitioner had argued that all the allegations against him were false and frivolous. According to him, his wife was very arrogant and torturous from the beginning of their marriage. He also approached the State Legal Services Authority for a settlement. His efforts yielded no result. Ultimately, his wife filed an FIR against him and his old parents. They also had a son, whose custody was given to the petitioner.

Considering the above-cited facts, Trial Court had directed the petitioner to pay Rs 15000 per month as maintenance to his wife; against which the petitioner and his family had filed an application challenging the trial court judgment. In the High Court, the petitioner contended that he had medical expenses of his old mother and all the expenses of his school-going son. Whereas, his wife’s counsel argued that since the petitioner was a govt. employee, he was eligible to pay maintenance to his wife. It was also argued that the monetary relief u/s 20 is different from maintenance u/s 125 CrPC.

While referring to the judgment of Juveria Abdul Majid Patni vs. Atif Iqbal Mansoori and another, the High Court stated that “The judgment of the appellate court does not call for any interference in this criminal revision petition”.

Hence, while dismissing the application of the petitioner, the court stated that “Obviously the wife is legally entitled to maintenance allowance from her husband who is a salaried government employee. Admittedly, she is a housewife and she has no source of earning whereas the husband draws a monthly salary of ₹49,000/- excluding all deductions.” Therefore, HC directed the husband to pay Rs 15000/- per month as maintenance and upheld the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge. The court contended that “Denial of maintenance allowance to the wife obviously causes ‘economic abuse’ to her within the meaning of domestic violence as under Section 3 of the DV Act.”

Click here to read the Judgement

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