'Wife's capacity to earn no ground to deny maintenance'

Wife's capacity to earn no ground to deny maintenance: Delhi High Court

A plea by a man from Bengaluru against the award of Rs 50,000 per month as maintenance to wife was declined

Representative image. Credit: iStock

Merely because the wife is capable of earning cannot be a sufficient reason to reduce the maintenance awarded to her by the family court in a case of a matrimonial dispute, the Delhi High Court has held. 

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri declined a plea by a man from Bengaluru against the award of Rs 50,000 per month as maintenance to wife. 

The man, who used to earn Rs 1.68 lakh per month, claimed his wife was an independent practicing advocate. But the wife, for her part, denied it, saying she was fully dependent on her parents for living, though she was qualified to be an advocate. 

The court pointed out the issue, whether the wife can be denied maintenance only on account of the fact that she is capable of earning has come before this court earlier too where it has been held that ‘capable of earning’ and ‘actual earning’ are two different requirements.

"Merely because the wife is capable of earning was held not be a sufficient reason to reduce the maintenance awarded by the family court," the court said.

The court declined to interfere with the trial court's order, saying his admitted salary of Rs1.68 lakh per month has to be divided into three equal shares, keeping two parts for the petitioner and one for the respondent. Therefore, the award of Rs 50,000 per month as interim maintenance to her was "completely justified".

In the case, marriage was solemnised on September 15, 2018. The parties resided together at the matrimonial home at Bengaluru till about October 2018 when the wife left the matrimonial home. She sought Rs one lakh per month as maintenance.

The man questioned the validity of maintenance order, saying the court has overlooked the fact that his wife is enrolled as an advocate and, therefore, must be earning respectably.

He claimed when the wife is professionally qualified and capable of earning, then no maintenance ought to have been granted to her.