Updated: January 20, 2022 2:13:19 pm
A Delhi court while allowing a woman’s plea for interim maintenance ruled that a wife is entitled to maintenance from her estranged husband even if she lives in the same household, observing that it was a common scenario in Indian households “where a victim of domestic violence is deprived of basic necessities”.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Monika Saroha also noted that there is usually a practice in many Indian households “an educated woman despite her qualification may not be allowed to join any regular employment to take care of her young children born in quick succession and to attend to the needs of her husband and family.”
The woman had filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act), alleging torture by her husband. After the husband denied the allegations, the trial court had found no ground for granting interim maintenance, noting that the woman had master’s and bachelor’s degrees, and was “capable of maintaining herself”.
“Admittedly, the husband and the wife were residing in the same household at the time of passing of the impugned order. However, the trial court was wrong in coming to the conclusion that merely because the aggrieved person before it was residing in her matrimonial house, she is not entitled to any maintenance,” ASJ Saroha said.
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The court noted that even though at the time of passing the impugned order, the woman was residing in the matrimonial house and therefore, she had no rental expenses and did not have any obligation to pay any electricity/water expenses etc, “still a wife is entitled to at least a minimum amount from her husband for her daily needs of food, toiletries, groceries, clothing etc”.
“The trial court erred in assuming that since the lady is residing in the matrimonial house, it is unbelievable that her husband is not paying her any maintenance or not taking care of her necessities. It is a common scenario in several households in our society where a victim of domestic violence is deprived of basic necessities and not a rupee is given to her to meet her daily needs, even though she resides in the same house,” the court said.
It said that merely because the husband is bearing the expenses of his children, no presumption can be made that he must also be maintaining his wife.
“Had that been the situation, there would have been no occasion for the wife to approach the trial Court and the police authorities with her grievances and the husband would have at least somewhere mentioned how much he is spending every month to maintain his wife,” the court said.
The judge also noted that the trial court did not apply the correct legal position and reasoning while holding that since the woman is an M.A., B.Ed., she is also capable of earning a decent salary and taking care of her own financial needs, and is not entitled to any maintenance.
“It is a settled law that the capacity to earn is totally different from the actual earnings. A middle-aged woman, a mother of three, who has accused her husband and in-laws of threatening her with domestic violence, can not be denied maintenance on the ground that many years ago she had procured B.A. and B.Ed. degree,” the court said.
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