Supreme Court grants Increased Maintenance in Divorce Case, Pioneering Financial Evaluation, and BSNL Pension Cap.





Facts of the Case:

The current appeal stems from a combined ruling issued by the Rajasthan High Court on November 11, 2016, in response to Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 10362-10363 of 2017. The ruling from the High Court concerned the increase in maintenance that Yagwati @ Poonam, the appellant, had been granted by the Jaipur Family Court in accordance with Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 (the “Act”). The appellant requested a revision of the maintenance award, arguing that the amount granted was insufficient and did not fairly represent the respondent, Ghanshyam,’s financial situation. According to the underlying facts, the appellant and respondent had a difficult marriage history; they were married on April 27, 1982, and experienced issues that ultimately caused them to separate in 1998. Following the legal proceedings, the respondent was awarded a divorce decree on May 31, 2005, and he remarried in 2007. The Family Court, Jaipur, had previously granted maintenance to the appellant and their minor child, Nikki, in an order dated 15.04.2009. However, the appellant sought an increase in maintenance based on the respondent’s alleged rise in salary from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), as revealed through a Right to Information (RTI) application.

Legal Provisions:

Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 – Section 18: Deals with maintenance orders for wives and children. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 – Section 13: Pertains to divorce and grounds for dissolution of marriage. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 – Order 9 Rule 13: Relates to setting aside ex-parte decrees.

Issues Involved:

Whether the maintenance awarded by the High Court is inadequate and should be enhanced. Whether the respondent’s current financial capacity, particularly his salary from BSNL, justifies an increase in maintenance. Whether the arrears of maintenance, as directed by the High Court, have been paid by the respondent?

Court’s Observation and Analysis

In his defense, the respondent implied that he had less financial capacity because he had retired and was now only receiving a pension from BSNL. The court carefully considered and weighed the arguments made by each party. In addition to taking into account the respondent’s altered circumstances after retirement, it acknowledged the necessity to reevaluate the maintenance amount in light of the respondent’s prior pay. As a result, the court used its authority to raise the monthly maintenance required by Section 18 of the Act. It gave the Family Court instructions to figure out the arrears, set up a monthly payment schedule, and make sure everyone followed through. Crucially, the respondent’s BSNL pension was not to surpass 50% thanks to a cap the court placed on the entire amount. It further clarifies that the aforementioned quantification process will not impede our directive to the Respondent to provide the Appellant with regular maintenance, up to Rs. 20,000/- (Rupees Twenty Thousand) per month, starting on the day this Order is declared.

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Written by- Komal Goswami


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