SC rules in favor of a woman who approached the apex court after fighting a legal battle for maintenance for around a decade after she left her matrimonial home in 2010.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Dinesh Maheshwari, on October 5, 2022, while hearing a plea of a husband who plead that he was incapable of providing maintenance to his wife and kids as he has no source of income, has opined that the husband is required to earn money “even by physical labor” as it a husband’s duty to provide for his wife and kids by any possible means.
The bench observing that the provision for maintenance under CrPC Sec 125 is a measure of social justice, that has been put in place to protect women and children, refused to accept the husband’s plea that presented that he had no source of income as his party business was shut down and thus was unable to provide for his wife and child.
The Apex court in its judgment maintained,
“The respondent (husband) being an able bodied, he is obliged to earn by legitimate means and maintain his wife and the minor child. Having regard to the evidence of the appellant-wife before the family court, and having regard to the other evidence on record, the court has no hesitation in holding that though the respondent had sufficient source of income and was able-bodied, had failed and neglected to maintain the appellant”.
SC observed, “Section 125 of CrPC was conceived to ameliorate the agony, anguish and financial suffering of a woman who is required to leave the matrimonial home, so that some suitable arrangements could be made to enable her to sustain herself and the children.”
The Apex court has also pulled up a family court for denying maintenance to the woman and her children after she left the matrimonial home and started living separately and said that “the court was not alive to the objects and reasons, and the spirit of the provisions under Section 125 of the code.”
The bench said that
“The family court had disregarded the basic canon of law that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife and to the minor children. The husband is required to earn money even by physical labour, if he is an able-bodied, and could not avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds mentioned in the statute. In Chaturbhuj vs Sita case, it has been held that the object of maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy and destitution of a deserted wife, by providing her food, clothing, and shelter by a speedy remedy.”
The Supreme Court directed the husband to pay maintenance of Rs 10,000 per month to his wife and of Rs 6,000 to his minor son.
The bench also disapproved the Punjab and Haryana HC passing order by stating it as, “such an erroneous and perverse order of family court”.