HC: Af­flu­ence of wife’s kin ir­rel­e­vant in main­te­nance

‘Can’t Deny In­terim Claim By Cit­ing Her Own In­come’

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Swati.Desh­pande

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.

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