The Delhi High Court observed that a wife is entitled to enjoy the same amenities as in her matrimonial home.

The Court was considering an appeal against a Family Court’s order directing a husband to pay maintenance to the minor child but denying pendente lite maintenance to the appellant wife.

A Division Bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta held, “The wife is also entitled to enjoy the same amenities of life as she would have been entitled to in her matrimonial home. The wife in the present case has been constrained to stay in a tenanted premises and bear all the expenses on education, extracurricular activities of the child alongwith medical and other uncertainties of life. No doubt the maintenance of the child is a joint responsibility but the realistic view of the aforesaid expenses and the status of the parties need to be kept into consideration.”

Advocate T.S. Ahuja appeared for the Appellant.

The appellant filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty and desertion, along with an application for maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The respondent initially expressed willingness for mutual consent divorce but later remained absent from proceedings, leading to an ex-parte proceeding.

The appellant, with an MBA and LLB qualification, claimed a monthly income from her business and rental property, seeking maintenance of Rs. 75,000/- per month.

The Court observed a delay in disposing of the maintenance application and emphasized the need for prompt resolution of such cases.

The Court acknowledged the appellant's earnings but asserted that the wife was entitled to maintenance based on the overall financial status, considering the child's expenses. The Court said, “merely because the wife is earning, it does not automatically operate as an absolute bar for awarding the maintenance. The parameter remains whether her source of income is sufficient to enable her to maintain herself along with minor child. The maintenance has to be realistic, avoiding either of two extremes i.e. neither oppressive or extravagant, nor meagre to drive the applicant wife to penury or mere support. The duration of the marriage as well as the conduct of the parties, which is apparent on the face of record also needs to be kept in perspective.”

The Court added, “It is pertinent to note that the obligation of husband to provide maintenance is on higher pedestal than wife since the provision for grant of maintenance/interim maintenance for women and children in the concerned statutes {i.e. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA, 1955), Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDV Act, 2005), Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA, 1956), Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C., 1973) or Special Marriage Act, 1954} is keeping in perspective the underlying principle under Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India. The purpose remains to provide recourse to dependent wife and children by way of financial support to maintain herself along with the child.”

The Court modified the order, granting maintenance of Rs. 15,000/- per month to the wife and maintaining Rs. 20,000/- per month for the child from the date of application till the proceedings' disposal. The respondent was directed to clear arrears.

Cause Title: Nidhi Sudan v. Manish Kumar Khanna, [2023: DHC: 8598-DB]

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