Date of Judgement:
1st July 2019
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva
Parties to the Case:
Petitioner- Manju Sharma
- Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973- deals with order for maintenance of wives, children and parents.
- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005- The Act envisages protection of women from domestic violence.
- Parties were validly married and had a daughter. The petitioner submitted that she was expelled from her house on account of failure to bring enough dowry and a car.
- The petitioner filed the petition in question here, under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, while the respondent had filed divorce proceedings which were pending. By the impugned order, the trial court held that respondent had not clearly disclosed his income and the assertion that he was earning only Rs. 12,000/- per month was unbelievable and accordingly assessed his income at Rs. 30,000/- and awarded Rs. 10,000/- to the petitioner and her daughter as maintenance
- The appellate court found no irregularities in the view taken by the trial court and dismissed the appeal filed by the petitioner seeking enhancement of the maintenance to Rs. 40,000/- per month and an order for residence.
Arguments Advanced by The Petitioner
- It was put forward by the petitioner that the respondent was engaged in several businesses. One of which was of manufacturing and sale of R.O. Water Purifier and had a turnover of Rs 1 Crore, employing nearly 10 persons
- The Father of the respondent in his evidence in a suit for injunction filed by him against the petitioner had affirmed that there was a jewelry showroom on the ground floor of one of their properties which was run by him and his sons including the respondent.
- Petitioner had contended that the trial court as well as the appellate court erred in not acknowledging that respondent had several businesses and several sources of income.He had not disclosed his correct income.
- Further, it was contended that the daughter of the parties suffered an eye ailment for which she requires regular treatment. The daughter urgently required an operation and the petitioner did not have funds for the same. Expenses of around Rs. 5000/- per month was being spent on her upbringing & education.
- The petitioner placed on record website listings of Genesis Traders, which was stated to be a sole proprietorship concern and claimed to have a turnover of about Rs. 50 lakhs to Rs. One Crore per annum. Further, the website listing to show that the respondent was engaged in the business of sale/purchase of second-hand car dealings was placed on record.
- Medical records of the daughter were produced which showed expenditure being incurred and regular visits to the doctor by the petitioner.
Arguments Advanced by The Opposite Party
- The respondent, contrary to all the submissions of the petitioner, had contended that his income was only Rs. 10,000/- to Rs. 15,000/- per month.
Whether the maintenance fixed by the trial court and affirmed by the appellate court was liable to be enhanced in the given circumstances?
- The trial court as well as the appellate court had found that the respondent was not been truthful in his disclosure.
- The appellate court erred in placing the burden of proof on the petitioner and in holding that she did not submit the details with regard to the RO Water business of the respondent.
- The Court observed that the listings placed on various websites by the respondent prima facie show the extent of his businesses. Even the father of the respondent had stated that he was engaged in the jewelry business along with the respondent though the business was stated to be closed today. At the stage of granting interim maintenance, the court was to only arrive at a prima facie opinion.
- The court relied on the judgement of Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, wherein the Apex Court held that Section 125 of CrPC was enacted to improve the agony and financial suffering of a woman who left her matrimonial home. Some suitable arrangements could be made by the court under this provision and she would be able to sustain herself and her children if they are with her. The concept of sustenance does not necessarily mean leading the life of an animal.It would be the obligation of the husband to see that the wife would not face miserable circumstances.She should be entitled to lead a life in a similar manner as she would have been living in her matrimonial home. It would bea duty to render financial support even if the husband would be required to earn money with physical labor. One cannot deny appropriate maintenance unless there was an order from the court that the wife would not be entitled to the same on any legally permissible grounds.
- The rationale for grant of maintenance applies to grant of maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 too.
- It was held that the trial court as well as the appellate court erred in assessing the income of the respondent and fixing interim maintenance on a lower scale. Keeping in mind the requirement of the petitioner and her daughter, the interim maintenance was to be enhanced. Interim maintenance should be enhanced to Rs. 30,000/- per month in view of the material placed by the petitioner on record and the expenditure required to be incurred by the petitioner.
- The respondent was directed to clear the entire arrears of maintenance in three equal monthly installments with the first instalment being payable within two weeks from the present order and would continue to pay interim maintenance of Rs. 30,000/- till the matter would be finally decided by the trial court.
The Honourable High Courtreiterated the rationale as envisaged by the provision of maintenance under various family law statutes including the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In the light of the same, the low scale maintenance based on an income assessment carried on by the Subordinate court was set aside and the interim maintenance was enhanced to Rs. 30,000/- per month.
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