Finding fault with the “mechanical” manner in which a family court computed the monthly maintenance to be paid to a woman by her Dubai-based husband, Delhi High Court has set aside the decision saying the man’s cost of living there and the wife’s expected expenses here were overlooked. A bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Yogesh Khanna also said the family court “casually” calculated the annual income of the husband for the years 2012 to 2016 on the basis of the Dirham to Rupee conversion rate of 2016 and not the earlier years. The high court noted that though the woman had moved an application for maintenance in November 2012, she had stayed with the husband at the matrimonial home till July 2015 and in the intervening period the man had borne the family expenses, including school fees of their two children.
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It directed the family court to re-decide the maintenance application by examining the couple on oath regarding their sources of income, investments, liabilities and expenses as well as the “huge inflow and outflow” of money from their respective accounts.
With the direction, the bench set aside the family court’s decision to award the woman Rs 5,86,143 per month from the date of her application for maintenance.
Instead, the high court, while keeping in view the status of the couple and the fact that the wife was earning at least Rs 1,50,000 per month as interest income and there was scope of her earning further income emerging in the re-examination of accounts, directed the husband to pay Rs two lakh per month as interim maintenance with effect from August 1, 2015.
The order came on the husband’s plea challenging the family court’s decision on the ground that maintenance amount was mechanically calculated without considering his cost of living in Dubai.
Agreeing with the husband’s plea, the high court said, “there appears to be force in the argument of the husband that the impugned order was passed mechanically by apportionment of income pie, overlooking the cost of living for stay at Dubai”.
“We find the approach of the Family Court being casual in assessing the income and expenditure of the spouses,” the bench said while asking it to re-decide the application for maintenance preferably within six months.
The high court also said in its 15-page ruling that the maintenance paid shall be liable to adjustment as per the final determination of the application by the Family Court.
“Amounts already received by the wife pursuant to interim orders passed in the appeals shall be adjusted,” the bench added and disposed of the husband’s plea.
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