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The plea of husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolve him of his duty to maintain his wife: High Court of Delhi

The test for determination of maintenance in matrimonial disputes depends upon the financial status of the Respondent and the standard of living that the applicant was accustomed to in her matrimonial home. The maintenance amount awarded must be reasonable and realistic. The plea of the husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolve him of his moral duty to maintain his wife if he is able-bodied and has educational qualifications and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Subramonium Prasad in the case of JAGMIT SINGH vs. SONIA SINGH [CRL.M.C. 2385/2021] on 08.02.2022.

The facts of the case are that the marriage between the Petitioner and the Respondent was solemnized. As differences arose between the two, the Respondent filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. An FIR was also registered by the Respondent alleging cruelty and cheating which consequently prompted the Petitioner to move the Court for anticipatory bail.

The Court had directed the Petitioner to a pay a sum of Rs. 50,000 per month towards maintenance to the Respondent. The Ld. Mahila Court in exercise of its power u/s 23 of the DV Act increased the interim maintenance to Rs. 1,00,000 per month in favour of the Respondent from the date of filing of the petition. The present petition, therefore, has been filed challenging the order of the Mahila Court.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the Orders of the Ld. Mahila Court and the Ld. Sessions Court have disregarded the financial constraints of the Petitioner by misreading the data available on record. He stated that the reading of “liabilities” of the Petitioner as “assets” has led to the Courts below to arrive at the inflated figure of maintenance and this misreading has also led the Courts to believe that the Petitioner has concealed his true assets. He further stated that the respondent is a designer for large television networks earning a handsome amount of money.

The respondent’s counsel submitted that the impugned Orders of the Courts are well-reasoned and based upon due consideration of the record before them. He submitted that the decision of the Ld. Sessions Court to direct the Petitioner to pay to the Respondent as interim maintenance has been taken after considering the status and the net-worth of the Petitioner. It was contended that according to Section 19(f) of the DV Act, the husband has to secure same level of alternate accommodation for the aggrieved person as was enjoyed by her in shared household.

According to the facts and circumstances, the Court allowed the application filed by the respondent as the amount was solely for the purpose of interim maintenance and the same was to be adjusted with the final amount.

The Court observed that “the test for determination of maintenance in matrimonial disputes depends upon the financial status of the Respondent and the standard of living that the applicant was accustomed to in her matrimonial home. The maintenance amount awarded must be reasonable and realistic. The plea of the husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolve him of his moral duty to maintain his wife if he is able-bodied and has educational qualifications.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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