The Bombay High Court overturned a decision by an appellate (sessions) court that had reduced the interim maintenance amount a man was ordered to pay his wife for her medical expenses after she fell into a vegetative state.

The case involved a married couple residing in the UK, where the wife allegedly suffered domestic violence before a medical condition left her in a vegetative state. She was brought back to India for care, prompting her application for maintenance under the domestic violence laws.

Initially, a trial court had instructed the man to provide ₹1.2 lakhs per month as interim maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, during ongoing legal proceedings initiated by his wife. However, upon appeal, the sessions court declined to stay the trial court's order but reduced the monthly maintenance to ₹25,000.

This reduction was contested and brought before the Bombay High Court.

A Bench of Justice Sharmila Deshmukh criticized the sessions court's decision, noting it lacked any substantive reasoning or findings to justify lowering the maintenance amount. The High Court emphasized that since the appellate court had refused to stay the trial court's order, it was inappropriate to reduce the maintenance amount without adequate justification. The Court said, “The order of the Appellate Court is completely bereft of any findings or reasoning on the basis of which reduction has been directed apart from the fact that the Appellate Court could not have reduced the amount of maintenance once having rejected the Application for stay.”

The High Court further highlighted that the wife required immediate financial support, especially as the husband had not deposited any funds towards her interim maintenance, despite assurances made by him and his family. The Court added, “The observations that there is not a single paisa deposited towards the interim maintenance and considering the overall facts and circumstances, the observations do not appear to be in consonance with the order which has been passed reducing the amount of maintenance.”

The Court reinstated the trial court's directive, reinstating the interim maintenance of ₹1.2 lakhs per month for the wife. The High Court also mandated that the trial in the domestic violence case be expedited.

Cause Title: X v. Y & Ors., [2024:BHC-AS:22306]


Petitioner: Advocates Sarah Kapadia, Ankta Pachouri, and Anoushka Ajoy Thangkhiew

Respondents: Advocate Akshay R Kapadia and Additional Public Prosecutor AR Metkari

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