Inadequacy of funds is not an excuse for not paying maintenance to ex-wife and daughter: Tripura High Court

Maintenance to ex-wife post-divorce cannot be denied or ignored only on the grounds of the inadequacy of carrying home pay. Tripura High Court gave these orders in the case of Supriya Bhattacharjee & others vs. Debabrata Chakraborty [Crl.Rev.P.no. 55 of 2019] by the single bench of Hon’ble Justice S.G Chattopadhyay.

In the instant case, due to marital disputes, the appellant decided to leave her husband (Respondent) and took along their daughter. As she was unable to maintain herself and her daughter and had no income, she claimed for maintenance u/s 125 of Crpc. Family Court of Agartala gave orders to the respondent to pay his wife Rs 3000/- per month as maintenance. Respondent agreed to take back his wife and daughter and contended for restitution of conjugal rights for which no response was observed from his wife’s side and therefore, the respondent decided to file a decree for divorce. Their Divorce got final and the Family Court of Agartala ordered the husband to pay Rs 5000/- per month as maintenance to his wife and daughter.

Thereafter, the Respondent got promoted and his salary rose. Respondent’s ex-wife appealed that their maintenance should also be increased because she was unable to pay for her daughter’s education and the other expenses out of the earlier maintenance amount. Therefore, she filed a petition in the Family Court in the year 2018 for raising her monthly maintenance allowance from Rs.5000/- to Rs.23500/- per month.

High Court observed the arguments from both the parties where the respondent contended that his divorced wife (petitioner) is an earning lady who is quite capable of supporting herself and therefore, the petition, according to him is devoid of merit and liable to be rejected. The Appellant’s counsel argued that the facts were completely false and there was no documentary evidence available for supporting the false claims.  It was further argued that the husband’s salary was Rs 62,400/- per month for which the appellant had the salary certificate.  Respondent contended that out of his salary, he mandatorily has to pay Rs 15000/- per month to his GPF Account and he was now married to a woman who was dependent on him and his salary.

The Appellant’s counsel argued that the amount to the GPF account is voluntary and can be reduced to discharge his obligation to his daughter and divorced wife. And the ex-wife also has the right to live with the same standards as she was living while she was with her husband.

High Court Bench agreed to these arguments and while referring to the previous judgments in the case of Bhuwan Mohan Singh vs. Meena and others [(2015) 6 SCC 353] Rajnesh vs. Neha and others [2020 SCC Online SC 903] gave the judgment that the husband can reduce his contribution to GPF to discharge his obligation towards the petitioner and his daughter and he cannot defeat their claim on the ground of such deduction and there is no proof of any serious ailment to him.

HC stated that “Respondent cannot be permitted to ignore his responsibility for maintaining his divorced wife and daughter on the ground of inadequacy of carrying home pay”. Hence, the HC bench ordered the Respondent to pay Rs 17000/- per month to his ex-wife as maintenance for herself and their daughter.

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Judgement reviewed by-Sarita Kumari

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