The Karnataka High Court under Justice M Nagaprasanna in XYZ & ABC (Writ petition No. 24226 of 2022) has said that ordering a wife to pay maintenance to an able-bodied husband who is not afflicted by any disease or illness would encourage inactivity. Merely because Section 24 of (Hindu Marriage) Act is gender neutral for grant of maintenance, it would be promoting idleness notwithstanding the fact that the husband has no impediment or handicap to learn.
The petitioner and the respondent are husband and wife who get married on 06-02-2017. On their relationship turning sour, it appears that the respondent/wife leaves the matrimonial house and begins to reside with her parents. Later a petition gets filed from both husband and wife for restitution of conjugal rights. The respondent/wife filed an application seeking grant of interim maintenance at Rs.25,000/- per month and litigation expenses at Rs.1,00,000/- from the hands of the husband. The petitioner/husband objects to the said application contending that he has no means to survive, but does not stop at that, files another application to counter the application filed by the wife, contending that he is in need of interim maintenance from the hands of the wife, to maintain himself and his parents in I.A.No.2, seeking monthly maintenance of Rs.2,00,000/- and litigation expenses at Rs.30,000/- from the wife, till the disposal of the petition. The court rejects the application filed by the husband and grants maintenance of Rs.10,000/- and litigation expenses at Rs.25,000/- to the wife. While so rejecting the application filed by the petitioner, the Court imposes costs upon the husband for filing the application seeking maintenance from the hands of the wife. It is this common order that drives the petitioner to this Court in the subject petition.
The Court noted that Merely because he has lost his job on the onset of Covid19, it cannot be held that he is incapable of earning. Therefore, it can be irrefutably concluded that the husband by his own conduct has decided to lead a leisurely life by seeking maintenance from the hands of the wife. In the considered view of this Court, such an application cannot be granted, as the husband cannot afford to incapacitate himself and sustain an application under Section 24 of the Act to claim maintenance from the hands of the husband. This would be an anathema to the spirit of Section 24 of the Act. Therefore, the husband cannot seek any maintenance unless he would demonstrate such disability either physical or mental which incapacitates him from earning money by finding a job for himself. It is in fact the duty of an able bodied husband to maintain himself, the wife and the child, if any.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VAISHNAVI SINGH