The Kerala High Court recently upheld the Trial Court's Order granting maintenance of Rs. 31,68,000/- to the divorced woman and the child.

The Bench of Justice Dr Kauser Edappagath observed that the Additional Sessions Judge should not have exceeded its jurisdiction in re-appreciating the evidence on record and relied upon the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Shlok Bhardwaj v. Runika Bhardwaj and Others [(2015) 2 SCC 721], wherein it was held that the scope of revisional jurisdiction of the High Court does not extend to re-appreciation of evidence.

"It has been consistently held by the Apex Court that the jurisdiction of the High Court in revision is severely restricted and it cannot embark upon re-appreciation of evidence.", said the Court.

In this case, the petitioner, a Muslim divorced woman, had filed a petition before the Magistrate under section 3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 claiming maintenance. The Magistrate granted Rs. 31,68,000/- as reasonable provision and maintenance to the wife and the child. The said order of the Magistrate was challenged by the Respondent before the Additional Sessions Court. The Sessions Judge set aside the order of the magistrate and remanded the case for fresh consideration, giving an opportunity to the respondent to prove his actual income. This order of remand was challenged before the High Court.

Advocate Rajasimhan appeared on behalf of the petitioner, Advocate T.M. Abdul Latheef appeared on behalf of the respondent.

The Court, while deciding the amount of maintenance, observed that it is trite that the court while fixing the reasonable and fair provision of maintenance to be paid to a divorced woman should keep in view the status of parties, the capacity of the former husband to pay maintenance and also other attendant circumstances.

The Court observed that the amount granted as maintenance by the Magistrate was arrived on a rational basis and was a well-reasoned order i.e., it was fixed after considering the evidence placed on record such as the Salary Certificate showing and proving the salary of the respondent to be Rs. 2,00,000/- per month.

The Court further observed that the Additional Sessions Judge in revision, without any reasoning, found that Rs. 33,000/- granted as monthly expenditure to the petitioner was without any logical basis and that the monthly income of the respondent was fixed without any cogent evidence. The Court also noted that the Additional Sessions Judge was persuaded by a salary certificate produced by the respondent in the Sessions Court which would show that the salary of the respondent is only Rs. 70,000/-.

The Court also observed that Magistrate after analysing the evidence on record in its correct perspective came to the conclusion that the petitioner and her child require 33,000/- for their livelihood and that the respondent earns 2,00,000/- per month and said that the order of the Additional Sessions Court is vitiated by illegality as the Additional Session Judge exceeded its jurisdiction in re-appreciating the evidence on record.

"It is settled that the revisional jurisdiction u/s 397 of Cr.P.C was to confer power upon superior criminal courts a kind of paternal or supervisory jurisdiction in order to correct miscarriage of justice arising from misconception of law, irregularity of procedure, neglect of proper precautions or apparent harshness of treatment.", said the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the petition.

Cause Title- Suhadath K.K v. Shihab K.B.

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