HC: Affluence of wife’s kin irrelevant in maintenance
‘Can’t Deny Interim Claim By Citing Her Own Income’
The hight court observed that the Bandra family court had failed to consider various relevant aspects while rejecting the wife’s claim. She had sought a monthly maintenance of Rs 5 lakh to sustain her matrimonial lifestyle. She had appealed through counsel R V Pai against the May 2016 family court order rejecting her plea. The family court had rejected her plea without justification, said her counsel R V Pai in an appeal she filed before the high court. Her husband’s counsel, R Ramani, though, opposed her appeal saying she earned around Rs 30,000 a month by giving French language tuitions and had rich parents.
Thehighcourtsaidthata2000 Supreme Court ruling, relied upon by the husband’s counsel to back his refusal to pay, “does not say that the moment the wife has some independent income, her claim for interim maintenance mustberejected.”
In a 32-page judgment pronounced on Friday and uploaded on Saturday, the high court said her “independent income must no doubt be taken into consideration whilst determining the quantum of interim maintenance. However, it is not correct to say that the moment the wife has some income, the claim for interim maintenance must be rejected,” it added.
The high court said the family court, though, should also consider the income, properties and other responsibilities of the person from whom the maintenance is being sought. And while it is important to ensure that a wife is able to live in the “same degree of comfort as in the matrimonial home,” the interim maintenance “should not be so exorbitant” that a husband is unable to pay. “Award of interim maintenance cannot be punitive,” said Justice Sonak, not accepting the wife’s claim for a Rs 5 lakh amount per month.
The wife, in her application, had made detailed averments of the luxurious lifestyle of the husband. He, though, had denied all her claims and claimed to earn merely Rs 20,000 per month.
“The details from the Registrar of Companies itself bear out that the respondent is a director and has considerable shareholding in the family concern, which is in the business for last several decades. All these circumstances have not been looked into by the family court,” observed the high court.
The issue of final maintenance will have to be decided on the basis of evidence which the warring husband and wife will lead before the family court and on its own merits, the high court said.