Must give maintenance to wife irrespective of her qualifications Karnataka High Court says a husband is duty-bound to give maintenance to his estranged wife if she is unable to maintenance herself for any reason The Karnataka High Court late last month pulled the curtain on a long drawn and an acrimonious family drama enacted between an accusing husband and a pleading wife over the...
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Must give maintenance to wife irrespective of her qualifications
Karnataka High Court says a husband is duty-bound to give maintenance to his estranged wife if she is unable to maintenance herself for any reason
The Karnataka High Court late last month pulled the curtain on a long drawn and an acrimonious family drama enacted between an accusing husband and a pleading wife over the payment of maintenance to her while ruling in favour of the wife.
Justice Dr H B Prabhakara Sastry dismissed revision petition of the husband R D Rajeev and who had challenged 2013 ruling of the Family Court that had directed him to pay Rs 3,000 per month as maintenance to his wife Roopa.
The petitioner had challenged the Mysuru Family Court order on the basis that his wife was a double graduate (MA, M.Ed.) and qualified enough to maintain herself.
"A mere possession of certain qualification by ipso facto cannot be considered that a woman is able to maintain herself. Maybe in the circumstances of the case, a person's educational qualification may come to his help or rescue in applying for jobs or in his attempt to fetch some livelihood or pursuing some avocation. By mere possession of such educational qualification itself, one cannot jump to a conclusion that such a qualification holder, particularly a wife under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., is able to maintain herself," Justice Dr Sastry said in his judgement delivered on 25 January 2021.
Rajeev and Roopa had got married in 2003. Their relations deteriorated after the husband realised that she was unable to bear a child due to certain issues. They separated as she shifted and started living with her brother in Mysuru. Subsequently, approached the Family Court demanding Rs 5,000 per month as maintenance.
The husband, on the other hand, filed a matrimonial case in the same court, seeking divorce with her under Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking dissolution of the marriage.
The Family Court in January 2013 granted divorce to the couple but accepted the wife's plea for maintenance partially by fixing it to Rs 3,000 per month as against Rs 5,000 demanded by her.
"There may be several reasons for a woman even to resign from a job in which she worked at one particular point of time and expect her husband to maintain her. Unless it is brought on record through cogent evidence that such an act of resigning from job or leaving avocation was only with an intention to compel her husband to pay her maintenance, which circumstances probably may warrant a different finding," Judge Dr Sastry said.
The HC dismissed the claim of the petitioner's counsel Advocate T G Sudha, who argued that the wife was a double graduate who can therefore fend for herself, without troubling the petitioner husband for maintenance.
It was also contended that the wife had suppressed her medical inability to bear children, and therefore, ruined his life. In this context, it was submitted that he was unable to pay her monthly maintenance.
The HC appointed Advocate Archana KM, as amicus curiae in the case. The amicus curiae submitted that having a higher educational qualification would not by itself help a person earn her livelihood. She also said that though the wife may have the capacity to earn, she was unable to do so for various reasons, including medical reasons.
The Court concurred with this submission and held that Section 125 (1)(a) and (b) of the CrPC mentions that it is not the capacity of the wife or the children which entitles them for claiming maintenance, but, it is their inability to maintain themselves.
"A reading of the above Section, more particularly sub-section (1)(a) and 1(b) of the said Section would clearly go to show that, what the law requires is, wife's or daughters' inability to maintain themselves," Judge Sastry noted.
"Though a person may have eligibility to be appointed in a post in any public office or may have a good educational qualification, but still, he/she may be unable to earn his/her livelihood because of lack of any employment or any inability to earn. It is in that context, the facts and circumstances of each and every case has to be analysed," the HC opined.
Having observed that, the Court considered the case at hand and said: "In the facts and circumstances of the case on hand, though the present respondent is shown to be an M.A., M.Ed., graduate, but still, as observed above, and as has come out in her evidence, she could not get any job, which also has not been seriously considered by the petitioner husband. As such, it is also demonstrated by her that she was unable to maintain herself."
The HC also rejected the petitioner's argument that the respondent had suppressed her medical incapability to bear children. "The said argument of the learned counsel, at the threshold itself is liable to be rejected, since the said attitude of the husband if he maintains the same, is nothing but a revenge of a person against another person for no valid reason. Such a revengeful attitude finds no place in the law."
The Court concluded by saying "It is after considering all these aspects, the Family Court, after analysing the materials placed before it in its proper perspective, has arrived at a finding that, the petitioner before it, i.e. the wife was entitled for maintenance and the respondent therein (petitioner herein) was liable to pay maintenance to his wife (respondent herein) at the rate of `3,000/- per month from the date of the said petition."
The Court added that "Giving maintenance to the wife is not merely a pleasure for the husband but it is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife, who herself is unable to maintain herself. In such a situation, if the wife has satisfied that she has got a valid reason to live separately or live away from her husband and when, she is unable to maintain herself, then it would be the duty of the husband to maintain her."