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While Directing Wife To Pay Maintenance To Husband, Court Held That Either Of The Spouse Can Claim Alimony Under Section 25 Of HMA: Bombay HC In Bhagyashri Vs Jagdish

Vrinda ,
  04 April 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Bombay High Court
Brief :
The couple, who married on April 17, 1992, divorced in 2015 after the wife filed a cruelty claim in court. Following the divorce, the husband filed a petition seeking perpetual alimony from the wife in the amount of Rs 15,000 per month.
Citation :
Writ Petition No.2527 OF 2021

CASE TITLE:
Bhagyashri v Jagdish

DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
31st March, 2022

JUDGE:
Justice Bharati Dangre

PARTIES:
Bhagyashri(Petitioner)
Jagdish (Respondent)

SUBJECT

In this case, the Bombay High Court upheld two civil court orders in Nanded directing a teacher's wife to pay Rs 3,000 maintenance to her husband by directing the school principal to deduct Rs. 5000 from her salary for unpaid maintenance from August 2017.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • Section 24 - provides for maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings
  • Section 25 - talks about permanent alimony and maintenance.

BRIEF FACTS

  • The couple, who married on April 17, 1992, divorced in 2015 after the wife filed a cruelty claim in court. Following the divorce, the husband filed a petition seeking perpetual alimony from the wife in the amount of Rs 15,000 per month.
  • The husband claimed that he had no source of income, whereas his wife has an M.A., B.Ed., and works at a university. He specifically claimed that he managed the house in order to encourage his wife to pursue the degree, putting his own ambition aside. Furthermore, the divorce had caused him a great deal of embarrassment. The husband also cited his ill health and the fact that he possessed no immovable property.
  • The wife, on the other hand, claimed that the husband owns a grocery store as well as an auto-rickshaw and makes money by leasing it out. Furthermore, she was responsible for their daughter's care.
  • However, the judge ruled that the husband's petition under Section 24 of the Act, which allows the spouse to claim interim litigation expenses, is maintainable. As a result, it ordered her to pay Rs. 3000 in maintenance until the permanent alimony case is resolved.
  • Another order from the court directed the headmaster to deposit money with the court for arrears.

QUESTIONS RAISED

  • Whether the husband can claim alimony in the present case?
  • Whether husband can claim alimony after 23 years of divorce?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER

  • The counsel for the petitioner argued that proceedings for permanent alimony and maintenance under Section 25 of the Act of 1955 are not maintainable after the divorce decree. He referred to it as a "travesty of justice."

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The husband's counsel contended that the Section 25 proceedings were not predicated on the divorce because the section uses the phrase "at any time subsequent thereto."

ANALYSIS BY THE COURT

  • The Bombay High Court declined to intervene in a Nanded court's orders directing a schoolteacher to pay interim maintenance to her ex-husband, who claimed to have no income.
  • The court relied on Sections 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act to state that they confer a right on the needy spouse to claim interim or permanent alimony.
  • In Chand Dhawan vs Jawaharlal Dhawan, the Apex Court overruled the decision and contention of various High Court that an order of permanent alimony was permissible even when the petition failed or dismissed. The Court cleared that the grant of permanent alimony decree of restitution of conjugal rights is a condition precedent. That is to say, the marital rights have to be disturbed for the issuance of permanent alimony. And since in the instant case no such decree was passed therefore the petition was disallowed.

CONCLUSION

The Court has taken a bold yet progressive take in this judgment by giving the right to the husband to also be able to claim alimony in certain cases. The Court has taken this decision in the right direction. It reflects the spirit of equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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