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Monetary relief u/s 12 of the DV Act shall be in consistence with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed: High Court of Delhi

The monetary relief granted under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 shall be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. There is no straitjacket formula to determine the quantum of maintenance, it could be presumed that an able-bodied husband is capable of earning sufficient money to maintain his wife and children, and whether the wife was educated, earning money and could support herself is no answer to a claim of maintenance and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by JUSTICE SUBRAMONIUM PRASAD in the case of SWANEET KUKREJA vs. JASPREET SINGH [CRL.REV.P. 194/2021] on 28.02.2022.

The facts of the case are that marriage between Jaspreet Singh (Husband) and Swaneet Kukreja (Wife) was solemnized as per Sikh rites and customs, and a girl child was born to them. Due to differences that cropped up between the husband and wife, the wife has been residing separately from the husband since along with their minor child. An application u/s 12 of the DV Act was filed by the wife against the husband. An application seeking interim maintenance had been also been filed by the wife. Aggrieved by the Order, the husband and wife have approached this Court by way of cross-appeals seeking revision of the impugned Order.

The plaintiff’s Counsel submitted that that till date he has paid about Rs. 27 lakhs by way of interim maintenance to the wife and his daughter, despite not having access to the education of the daughter. It was further stated that Ld. Appellate Court has failed to appreciate the material on record and has arrived at an enlarged figure of income of the husband only on the basis of the wife’s pleadings.

The respondent’s Counsel submitted that the impugned Order is bad in law as it fails to take into account the true earning of the husband and has only calculated the interim maintenance based on the lower level of the income in the ITR documents of the husband. It was further submitted that the assessment is significantly on the lower side and does not consider the fact that, for the year 2020-21, the minimum disposable income of the husband was Rs. 41,38,894/- per annum, with the husband receiving Rs. 3,44,907/- per month in hand.

The Court found no merit in the submissions of either the wife or the husband challenging the said Order and, therefore, did not deem it fit to interfere in the impugned Order. The Court observed, “the monetary relief granted under Section 12 of the DV Act shall be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. There is no straitjacket formula to determine the quantum of maintenance, it could be presumed that an able-bodied husband is capable of earning sufficient money to maintain his wife and children, and whether the wife was educated, earning money and could support herself is no answer to a claim of maintenance.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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