Mumbai: Merely because a woman is educated, she cannot be compelled to work to earn a living, observed the Bombay High Court while hearing a man’s plea challenging lower court’s order directing him to pay maintenance to his estranged wife.
Justice Bharti Dangre, on Friday, emphasised on the importance of the choice of a woman to either work or stay at home even if she is qualified and educated to work, while hearing a revision application filed by the man challenging an order of the family court in Pune.
“Our society has not yet accepted that the woman of the household should contribute (financially). It is a woman's choice to work. She cannot be compelled to go to work. Just because she is a graduate, does not mean she cannot sit at home,” said Justice Dangre.
Justice Dangre further added: “Today I am a judge of this court. Tomorrow, suppose I sit at home. Will you then say I am qualified to be a judge and shouldn't sit at home?”
The observations came after the man’s counsel argued that the family court had unfairly directed the man to pay maintenance since his estranged wife was a graduate and had the capability to work and make a living.
The man further contended in his plea that his estranged wife had a steady source of income at present, but that she had hidden this fact from the court.
According to the plea, the man and woman got married in 2010. In 2013, the wife and their daughter started living separately. The same year, she initiated proceedings under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act against the husband and his family.
A year later, in 2014, she filed a petition for restitution of conjugal rights. She also filed a complaint against him under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code for cruelty.
While the domestic violence proceedings were pending, the wife filed for maintenance before a family court under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The family court allowed the application and directed the husband to pay Rs 5,000 per month to the wife. The court also directed him to pay additional Rs 7,000 towards maintenance of the child.
The husband challenged this order before the HC claiming that he did not have any resources or money left to fight the continuous proceedings being initiated by his wife.
His primary contention was that the wife had falsely claimed she did not have a source of income, when in fact, she was a salaried employee.
The wife’s advocate requested for time to file reply to the petition. The HC has kept the petition for hearing next week.