The Punjab & Haryana High Court has recently given an important observation regarding the liability of a husband to maintain his wife who is unable to support herself.
In a case titled Sandeep V. Suman, Justice HS Madaan dismissed a revision plea filed by the husband, who was a professional beggar, against an order directing him to pay maintenance to his wife. The Court noted that a husband has both a moral and legal obligation to maintain his wife who is unable to maintain herself, irrespective of his profession.
Background of the case
The wife had filed for divorce and an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking maintenance from her husband at ₹15,000 per month and litigation expenses of ₹11,000 pending the outcome of the divorce case. The trial court had granted maintenance at ₹5,000 per month to the wife during the pendency of the divorce case and directed the husband to pay a lump sum of ₹5,500 to his wife as litigation expenses along with ₹500 per hearing on getting marked her presence before the court. The husband had challenged this order in the High Court.
The High Court noted that the husband is an able-bodied person and even a manual laborer can earn ₹500 or more per day nowadays. Therefore, the Court observed that the maintenance awarded to the wife cannot be said to be on a higher side.
The Court also noted that the husband had failed to establish that his wife had any means of earning or was possessed of sufficient property. Hence, the Court held that the husband had a legal and moral duty to maintain his wife and the trial court's order was justified in granting maintenance and litigation expenses to the wife.
The High Court dismissed the husband's plea, stating that the impugned order passed by the trial court was well-reasoned and did not suffer from any illegality or infirmity. The Court held that the trial court's order was not arbitrary or perverse, and the husband was liable to pay maintenance and litigation expenses to his wife.
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