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Whatever be the dispute between the husband and the wife, a child should not be made to suffer: Supreme Court of India

A Father cannot be absolved off his liability and responsibility to maintain his child till they attain the age of majority. It also cannot be disputed that the child has a right to be maintained as per the status of his father. This was observed by a division bench judge Hon’ble Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah, J in the matter of Neha Tyagi vs. Lieutenant Colonel Deepak Tyagi [Civil Appeal No. 6374 of 2021].

The facts of the case is that appellant and the respondent were married and had a son out of the said wedlock. A dispute arose between the husband and the wife and the appellant-wife filed a number of complaints against the respondent-husband before his employer – Army Authorities including the extra-marital affairs of the respondent-husband. The respondent-husband filed a case against the appellant-wife before the learned Family Court, Jaipur seeking a decree of divorce and dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty and desertion by the appellant-wife. The learned Family Court passed a decree for dissolution of marriage between the appellant and the respondent on the ground of cruelty and desertion by the appellant-wife on 19.05.2008. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied by that judgment, the appellant herein preferred an appeal before the High Court. By the impugned judgment and order, the High Court dismissed the said appeal and confirmed the judgment and decree passed by the learned family Court. Hence, the present appeal was filed in the Supreme Court at the instance of the appellant-wife.

Though served, the respondent-husband had not appeared in the present appeal and despite the order of status quo passed by this Court vide interim order dated 22.11.2019, the respondent-husband had re-married.

The learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant submitted that despite the order of status quo passed by this Court, the respondent-husband had re-married and that was why he wasn’t appearing in the present proceedings. It was urged on behalf of the appellant-wife that in the alternative, the findings against the appellant-wife on “cruelty” may be expunged and marriage may continued to remain dissolved on account of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. However, it was submitted to direct the respondent-husband to pay maintenance to the appellant-wife and minor son as they had no means of maintaining themselves and had no independent income to sustain themselves. It was submitted that since December, 2019, the appellant-wife and her son were not being paid any maintenance which they were receiving from the Army Authorities where they were being given Rs. 40,000/- towards maintenance. It was prayed before the Hon’ble court to direct the respondent-husband to pay the maintenance to the appellant and her minor son.

Supreme court after perusing the facts and arguments presented, held that – “the respondent-husband cannot be absolved from his liability and responsibility to maintain his son till he attains the age of majority. Whatever be the dispute between the husband and the wife, a child should not be made to suffer. The liability and responsibility of the father to maintain the child continues till the child/son attains the age of majority. It also cannot be disputed that the son has a right to be maintained as per the status of his father. It was reported that the mother is not earning anything. Therefore, a reasonable/sufficient amount is required for the maintenance of her son including his education etc. which shall have to be paid by the respondent-husband, irrespective of the decree of dissolution of marriage between the appellant-wife and the respondent-husband. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present appeal stands disposed of by confirming the decree of divorce/dissolution of the marriage between the appellant-wife and the respondent-husband. However, the respondent-husband is directed to pay Rs.50,000/- per month with effect from December, 2019 to the appellant-wife towards the maintenance of son as per the status of the respondent herein.” The instant appeal was then disposed of, with detailed directions given to the respondent-husband for payment of the maintenance.

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Judgement reviewed by- Mehvish Alam

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