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In a very significant development which shall immensely help women to know how much her husband is earning as salary, the Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court in an extremely laudable, learned, landmark and latest judgment titled Smt Rashi Gupta & Ors. vs. Gaurav Gupta in CRR No. 3519/2018 delivered as recently as on April 29, 2022 has observed explicitly that giving an opportunity to the husband to file his salary slip for effective adjudication of the maintenance proceedings cannot be said to be depriving him of his life and personal liberty. A wife is not a stranger but a life partner and so she is definitely entitled to know the salary of her husband. The single Judge Bench comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia of Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court further minced no words in holding that asking the husband to produce his salary slip in such a proceeding cannot be termed as a violation of his privacy. In the instant case, we thus see that the husband was directed by the Principal Judge, Family Court, Gwalior to pay Rs18,000/- in total per month to his wife and children as maintenance. However, he was allegedly trying to delay the matter on one pretext or the other.

To start with, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a single Judge Bench of Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia first and foremost sets the ball rolling by recalling and putting forth in the opening para that, "On 22/07/2019, the following order has been passed:-

"Shri D.D.Bansal, learned counsel for the petitioners.

Shri M.M.Tripathi, learned counsel for the respondent.

Counsel for the respondent sought time to file reply.

Same is opposed by counsel for the petitioner. It is submitted that as a dilatory tactic, respondent is making attempts to delay the matter. As per the order of Principal Judge, Family Court, Gwalior, Rs. 18,000/- in total per month is to be given to petitioners as maintenance.

Counsel for the respondent is directed to file reply within two weeks positively, else matter should be heard without reply. It is further expected that respondent shall submit the appropriate documents in support of his submission regarding the salary structure of respondent. It is also expected that respondent shall pay regular maintenance amount to petitioner, who are his wife and children.

List the matter on 8/8/2019.""

What follows next is then laid bare in the next para wherein it is disclosed by the Bench that, "In response to the aforesaid order, the respondent has filed his reply but has not filed the salary slip on the ground that compelling the husband to file the salary slip in the maintenance proceedings would be contrary to the protection given under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."

Simply put, the Bench then while mentioning about what is stated in Article 21 of Constitution notes that, "Article 21 of the Constitution of India reads as under:-

"21. Protection of life and personal liberty.-

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.""

Without mincing any words, the Bench then holds that, "Giving an opportunity to the husband to file his salary slip for effective adjudication of the maintenance proceedings cannot be said to be depriving him from his life and personal liberty. Even otherwise, it is clear from the Article 21 of the Constitution of India that the life and liberty of a person can be deprived in accordance with procedure established by law."

Moving on, the Bench then while mentioning about the respondent defence observes that, "The respondent has also taken the defence of Article 20 of the Constitution of India and submitted that no one can be compelled to give evidence against himself. Article 20 of the Constitution of India reads as under:-

"20. Protection in respect of conviction for offences.-

(1) No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.

(2) No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.

(3) No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.""

While setting the record straight, the Bench then holds that, "The present revision arises out of the proceedings registered under Section 125 of Cr.P.C. There is no question of conviction of the respondent. Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India provides that no person/accused of any offence shall be compelled of the witness against him. Admittedly, the respondent is not an accused. The protection granted under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India does not apply to the respondent."

It is worth mentioning here that the Bench then points out that, "This Court by order dated 12/04/2022 also had granted time to the respondent to comply the order dated 22/07/2019, but it is submitted by Shri Kushwah that he cannot be compelled to file the salary slip of the respondent."

While citing the relevant case law, the Bench then states that, "The Supreme Court in the case of Shamima Farooqui Vs. Shahid Khan reported in (2015) 5 SCC 705 has held that a wife is entitled for enjoying the same status, which she would have otherwise enjoyed in her matrimonial house."

While citing yet another case law, the Bench then mentions that, "The Supreme Court in the case of Rajnesh Vs. Neha and Another reported in (2021) 2 SCC 324 has held that while adjudicating the quantum of maintenance, the status of the parties is also one of the important consideration."

Going ahead, the Bench then points out that, "Furthermore, in the case of Rajnesh (supra) it has been held as under:-

"80. On the other hand, the financial capacity of the husband, his actual income, reasonable expenses for his own maintenance, and dependent family members whom he is obliged to maintain under the law, liabilities if any, would be required to be taken into consideration, to arrive at the appropriate quantum of maintenance to be paid. The court must have due regard to the standard of living of the husband, as well as the spiralling inflation rates and high costs of living. The plea of the husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolve him of his moral duty to maintain his wife if he is able-bodied and has educational qualifications. [Reema Salkan v. Sumer Singh Salkan, (2019) 12 SCC 303 : (2018) 5 SCC (Civ) 596 : (2019) 4 SCC (Cri) 339].

  1. A careful and just balance must be drawn between all relevant factors. The test for determination of maintenance in matrimonial disputes depends on the financial status of the respondent, and the standard of living that the applicant was accustomed to in her matrimonial home. [Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai, (2008) 2 SCC 316 : (2008) 1 SCC (Civ) 547 : (2008) 1 SCC (Cri) 356] The maintenance amount awarded must be reasonable and realistic, and avoid either of the two extremes i.e. maintenance awarded to the wife should neither be so extravagant which becomes oppressive and unbearable for the respondent, nor should it be so meagre that it drives the wife to penury. The sufficiency of the quantum has to be adjudged so that the wife is able to maintain herself with reasonable comfort.
  2. Section 20(2) of the DV Act provides that the monetary relief granted to the aggrieved woman and/or the children must be adequate, fair, reasonable, and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved woman was accustomed to in her matrimonial home.
  3. The Delhi High Court in Bharat Hegde v. Saroj Hegde [Bharat Hegde v. Saroj Hegde, 2007 SCC OnLine Del 622 : (2007) 140 DLT 16] laid down the following factors to be considered for determining maintenance : (SCC OnLine Del para 8)

"1. Status of the parties.

  1. Reasonable wants of the claimant.
  2. The independent income and property of the claimant.
  3. The number of persons, the non-applicant has to maintain.
  4. The amount should aid the applicant to live in a similar lifestyle as he/she enjoyed in the matrimonial home.
  5. Non-applicant's liabilities, if any.
  6. Provisions for food, clothing, shelter, education, medical attendance and treatment, etc. of the applicant.
  7. Payment capacity of the non-applicant.
  8. Some guesswork is not ruled out while estimating the income of the non-applicant when all the sources or correct sources are not disclosed.
  9. The non-applicant to defray the cost of litigation.
  10. The amount awarded under Section 125 CrPC is adjustable against the amount awarded under Section 24 of the Act." 90.4. An able-bodied husband must be presumed to be capable of earning sufficient money to maintain his wife and children, and cannot contend that he is not in a position to earn sufficiently to maintain his family, as held by the Delhi High Court in Chander Parkash v. Shila Rani [Chander Parkash v. Shila Rani, 1968 SCC OnLine Del 52 : AIR 1968 Del 174] . The onus is on the husband to establish with necessary material that there are sufficient grounds to show that he is unable to maintain the family, and discharge his legal obligations for reasons beyond his control. If the husband does not disclose the exact amount of his income, an adverse inference may be drawn by the court.

90.5. This Court in Shamima Farooqui v. Shahid Khan [Shamima Farooqui v. Shahid Khan, (2015) 5 SCC 705 : (2015) 3 SCC (Civ) 274 : (2015) 2 SCC (Cri) 785] cited the judgment in Chander Parkash [Chander Parkash v. Shila Rani, 1968 SCC OnLine Del 52 : AIR 1968 Del 174] with approval, and held that the obligation of the husband to provide maintenance stands on a higher pedestal than the wife.

(d) Maintenance of minor children

  1. The living expenses of the child would include expenses for food, clothing, residence, medical expenses, education of children. Extra coaching classes or any other vocational training courses to complement the basic education must be factored in, while awarding child support. Albeit, it should be a reasonable amount to be awarded for extracurricular/coaching classes, and not an overly extravagant amount which may be claimed.
  2. Education expenses of the children must be normally borne by the father. If the wife is working and earning sufficiently, the expenses may be shared proportionately between the parties.

(e) Serious disability or ill health"."

Quite commendably, the Bench then clearly holds that, "Further, the wife cannot be held to be a stranger and she is entitled to know the salary of her husband."

Briefly stated, the Bench then envisages that, "The Division Bench of this Court in the case of Smt. Sunita Jain Vs. Pawan Kumar Jain and others in W.A.No.168/2015 by order dated 15/05/2018 (Principal Bench) has held as under:-

While dealing with the Section 8(1)(j) of the Act, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the appellant and the respondent No.1 are husband and wife and as a wife she is entitled to know what remuneration the respondent No.1 is getting. Present case is distinguishable from the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande (supra) and therefore the law laid down by their Lordships in the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande (supra) are not applicable in the present case. In view of the foregoing discussion, we allow the appeal and set aside the order passed by the Writ Court in W.P. No.341/2008. Similarly, the W.A. No.170/2015 is also allowed and the impugned order passed in W.P. No.1647/2008 is set aside. A copy of the order be retained in the file of W.A.No.170/2015. There shall be no order as to the costs.""

Most significantly, the Bench then holds that, "Under these circumstances, where financial status of the parties is one of the relevant consideration for adjudicating the lis, then asking the husband to produce his salary slip cannot be termed as violation of his privacy. Since, the respondent has refused to place his salary slip on record, therefore, it is held that under these circumstances, this Court may draw an adverse inference against the respondent."

On a concluding note, the Bench then concludes by holding that, "Under these circumstances, Shri Bansal prays for an adjournment to argue the matter finally. As prayed by the counsel for the applicants, list this case in the week commencing 20/06/2022 for final hearing at motion stage."

In brief, this is a very significant, simple and straight forward judgment in favour of the wife by a single Judge Bench of Gwalior Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising of Justice GS Ahluwalia. It is clearly held that asking husband to produce salary slip in maintenance proceedings can’t be termed as violation of privacy. It is also made clear in this judgment that a wife being a life partner is entitled to ask for it and this cannot be denied by the husband. This is what forms the keystone of this notable judgment.


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