Justice Chandra Dhari Singh of Delhi High Court while refusing to alter the maintenance amount awarded by a Family Court has held that the husband's financial condition and change in circumstances must be considered while altering the maintenance under Section 127 CrPC in a matrimonial dispute.

A criminal Revision Petition was filed under Section 397 and 401 read with Section 482 CrPC by the Revisionist-wife seeking enhancement of maintenance awarded by the Family Court, claiming it to be on the lower side.

It was alleged by the wife that since she was unable to bring a dowry of Rs. 10 lacs, she was thrown out of her matrimonial home. The Revisionist was neglected by the Respondent-Husband and was unable to maintain herself.

Thereafter, she invoked the provisions of Section 125 CrPC for maintenance. The petition was allowed and the Respondent was directed to pay –

  • Litigation costs of Rs. 11,000;
  • Rs. 2,000/- per month from the date of filing of the petition i.e 26th May 2010 to 25th May 2015;
  • Rs. 2,500/- per month w.e.f 26th May 2015 to 27th November 2017; and
  • Rs, 3,000/- per month w.e.f from 27th November 2017 till such time revisionist gets remarried.

Aggrieved by the inadequate maintenance, the Revisionist approached the High Court for enhancement of the maintenance amount.

The Bench noted that the object of Section 125 CrPC is to prevent vagrancy and destitution of the wife, minor children, and the parents.

While placing reliance on various precedents, the Court held –

"The intent behind granting interim/permanent alimony is to ensure that the dependent spouse is not reduced to destitution or vagrancy on account of the failure of the marriage, and not as punishment to the other spouse. The financial capacity of the husband, his actual income with reasonable expenses for his own maintenance, and dependant 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. It is settled law that balance and equity must carefully be drawn between all relevant factors."

The Court also held that the test of determination of maintenance in matrimonial disputes depends on the financial status of the Respondent and the standard of living that the Revisionist was accustomed to in her matrimonial home.

The Court referred to Section 127 – Alteration in Maintenance and observed –

"The plain import of sub-section (1) of Section 127 Cr.P.C is that a provision is made therein for an increase or decrease of the allowance consequent on a change in the circumstances of the parties at the time of the application for alteration of the original order of maintenance. It must be shown that there has been a change in the circumstances of husband or of the wife."

The Court also held that circumstances alleged by the Revisionist/wife already existed at the time of passing the original maintenance judgment, thereof, proof of such circumstances cannot form the basis of altering the amount of maintenance under Section127(1) CrPC.

The Bench opined that in this case, there is nothing on record to prove that there has been a change in circumstances that would warrant an enhancement in maintenance.

In this context, the Court held –

"In the present case, the revisionist submitted that the respondent is man of sufficient means and earning Rs. 82,000/- per month, but she has not placed on record any documents to assess his exact income and to establish that the he is earning such handsome amount of money. Even this Court does not find any material(s) on record to ascertain the exact income of the respondent nor is there any change in circumstances."

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition.

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