The Jharkhand High Court observed that it is obligatory on the part of a wife to serve her husband’s mother and maternal grandmother and to not insist upon unreasonable demands to live separately.

The Court relied on Article 51-A of Part IV-A of the Constitution to state that it is a fundamental duty of the citizen of India ‘to value and preserve the reach heritage of our composite culture.’ The Court held that the wife was not entitled to any amount of maintenance as she refused to reside with husband without any reasonable cause.

A Single Bench of Justice Subhash Chand observed, “the issue between the husband and wife is that the wife is not agree to serve the old aged mother-in-law and maternal grandmother-in-law, who are respectively 75 years and 95 years old. She creates pressure upon her husband to live separate from his mother and maternal grandmother. It is the very reason; this ground is not found sufficient that’s why the legislature while enacted under Section 125(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure has provided one of the grounds for denial the maintenance, if wife refuses to reside with the husband without any reasonable cause.

Advocate Indrajit Sinha represented the petitioner, while Advocate Rahul Kumar represented the opposite parties.

The wife had filed a criminal revision petition to increase the maintenance granted by the Family Court.

The husband had filed a suit for judicial separation under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), claiming that the wife declined to serve his old-aged mother and maternal grandmother, creating a strained atmosphere. On the other hand, the wife contended that she was taunted for not fulfilling dowry demands by her in-laws, leading to harassment. She was forced to leave her matrimonial house and subsequently filed a case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against her husband, who was granted bail.

The Court pointed out that “admittedly, Piyali Ray Chatterjee has also filed a case under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code against her husband and mother-in-law. This case was filed after instituting the suit by Rudra Narayan Ray under Section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act for judicial separation.

The Husband argued that his wife had left the matrimonial house due to her unreasonable demand for a nuclear family by forcing him to abandon his old and ailing 72-year-old mother and 94-year-old maternal grandmother. The husband clarified that he received a salary of Rs.68,000/- per month, and does not have an income of Rs.4,50,000/- per month as claimed by the wife.

The Court noted, “The prayer of petitioner does not match with the law as she has every ability to earn, yet the respondent poses mentality to look after the basic needs of his spouse and kid, but the petitioner’s only intention is to put the respondent in hardship and harassment.

The Court relied on the testimonies provided by the husband and his neighbours to hold that the wife had left her matrimonial house at her own will as she did not want to serve her in-laws. The Court also considered the contradictory testimonies provided by the family of the wife to hold that the dowry case filed by her was a counter-blast case in order to teach a lesson to her husband.

The Court held that the wife was not entitled to any amount of maintenance but enhanced the amount of maintenance for the son.

Accordingly, the High Court partly allowed the criminal revision

Cause Title: Rudra Narayan Ray v. Piyali Ray Chatterjee & Anr.

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