Dismissing a man's appeal against an order directing him to pay interim maintenance to his estranged wife, a Delhi court has said that it is the husband's social and lawful duty to maintain his legally wedded wife and he cannot run away from his responsibility.
The court, however, said the wife should also try to find a job for herself and should not waste her talent sitting idle at home since she was qualified.
Principal District and Sessions Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma said the magistrate court has rightly directed the man to pay Rs 20,000 per month as interim maintenance to his wife.
"As per settled law, the appellant (husband) cannot shirk his responsibility as husband to maintain his legally wedded wife, which is his social and lawful duty towards his wife," the court said in its order passed on March 25.
It noted that as per the law, the wife was also entitled to the same standard of living as enjoyed by her husband.
During the hearing, the man's counsel had claimed that his wife had herself left the matrimonial home without any reason and refused to come back.
His lawyer further argued that he was jobless from 2019 as he had left his job to pursue higher studies and thus, the trial court passed the interim orders without considering his current situation and liabilities.
Advocate Amit Kumar, appearing for the wife, argued that she was allegedly tortured by her in-laws at the matrimonial home which had compelled her to file a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act against them and reside with her brother.
Kumar said the magistrate court had passed the order after considering the man's expenses and his last drawn salary, and that his wife was unemployed.
The court said the man admitted that he had spent more than Rs 5 lakh on his fee for pursuing the course from his savings.
"It is also, therefore, clear from the record and the own admission of the appellant (man) that he has a huge amount of money to pursue higher studies, however, he claims that he does not have the money to pay to his wife who is jobless,” the court said.
"It was the duty of the appellant as a husband to have first ensured that he was able to fulfill his responsibility from his income and thereafter decide about spending money on any other pursuits," it added.
The court observed that it is not wrong to pursue higher studies but as a husband he has social and moral responsibility towards his wife which he cannot shirk.
"It was the own decision of the appellant (man) to have given up his job to pursue higher studies despite knowing about his responsibility,” it said.
"Even if the respondent (wife) may have resided or is residing with her brother having no accommodation, after being driven out of the matrimonial home, it is understandable that after she is awarded some maintenance amount for accommodation that she may be able to obtain a house on rent or even make payment or contribute to the family where she is now residing after being driven out of the matrimonial home," the court said.
It added that in the case the amount of maintenance was awarded keeping in mind the income of the man and his standard of living.
A magistrate court had directed the man to pay a maintenance of Rs 20,000 per month to his wife till disposal of the case.
It had said that the amount included accommodation expenses also.