The Karnataka High Court while noting that it was the duty of an able-bodied husband to maintain himself, the wife, and the child, if any, held that it is better to wear out; than rust out’.

The Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna observed that “if maintenance is awarded to the husband as is claimed from the hands of the wife, merely because Section 24 of the Act is gender neutral for grant of maintenance, it would be promoting idleness notwithstanding the fact that the husband has no impediment or handicap to earn.”

In this case, the High Court had upheld the order passed by the Family Court wherein maintenance of Rs. 10,000/- and litigation expenses of Rs.25,000/- was granted to the wife and the application moved by the husband seeking monthly maintenance of Rs. 2,00,000/- and litigation expenses of Rs. 30,000/- from wife, was rejected under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Advocate Shivaraju M.K. appeared for the petitioner-husband and Advocate Madhu R. appeared for the respondent-wife.

It was contended by the husband that he had become unemployed at the onset of Covid-19 and for the last two years he was not able to find a job, therefore, no maintenance should be awarded to the wife, but in turn, maintenance should be awarded to him, from the hands of the wife.

The Court rejected the contention and observed that “The contention that the petitioner has no job and has no means to maintain himself and, therefore, is not in a position to maintain the wife and in turn wants maintenance from the wife, is unacceptable as it is fundamentally flawed.”

Therefore, the Court held that “Merely because he has lost his job on the onset of Covid19, it cannot be held that he is incapable of earning. Therefore, it can be irrefutably concluded that the husband by his own conduct has decided to lead a leisurely life by seeking maintenance from the hands of the wife.”

The Court further held that “In the considered view of this Court, such an application cannot be granted, as the husband cannot afford to incapacitate himself and sustain an application under Section 24 of the Act to claim maintenance from the hands of the husband. This would be an anathema to the spirit of Section 24 of the Act. Therefore, the husband cannot seek any maintenance unless he would demonstrate such disability either physical or mental which incapacitates him from earning money by finding a job for himself.”

Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.

Cause Title- N. Girish v. M. Kusuma

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