The Bombay High Court has observed that the wife's social media posts on the job or her educational qualifications are no grounds to deny her maintenance.

Justice Sandeep V. Marne was hearing the plea of the wife who was denied maintenance pendente lite by the Family Court under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The Court noted that the rejection of the application for maintenance by the Family Court was erroneous since it proceeded essentially on two counts of possession of higher qualifications and a declaration made by her on the social media platform.

The Petitioner-Wife contended before the Court that mere possession of qualifications by her could not have been a reason for denial of interim maintenance as she is actually jobless. It was further submitted that capacity or ability to earn is different from actual earning.

For the declaration made on social media platform regarding securing a job in London, it was argued by the Petitioner, that it was actually a sham.

The High Court noted, "…the findings recorded by the Family Court would indicate that it did not arrive at a definitive conclusion that petitioner actually secured employment or that she has been working on the post in consequent to the offer of appointment which was put on the social media platform. However, considering the her qualifications, the Family Court has raised presumption that the possibility of she securing a job could not be ruled out. This finding in my opinion appears to be totally erroneous. The Family Court itself has recorded a finding that mere publication of a post on social media platform is not sufficient to make out a case with regard to the employment of petitioner. Having held so, the Family Court ought not to have raised a presumption she secured an employment, just because she possesses higher qualifications."

The Court further went on to note that apart from the social media post, Respondent-Husband did not put on record any other concrete material to prove that the petitioner actually secured any employment or that she has been working and earning.

The Bench held that nothing of that sort was placed on record, therefore, it would be safe to assume that the Petitioner is not engaged in any employment and had been earning any income for herself.

The Court, however, also held that the act of the Petitioner in posting the letter of appointment, which she later claims to be fake, on social media platform is not commendable and she should have restrained herself from doing so without first verifying the genuineness of the offer.

Thus, the Bench observed that in the absence of any concrete proof of actual employment, an inference cannot be drawn that the offer actually fructified in a job for her and held –

"Having arrived at a conclusion the Petitioner-wife is actually not employed, in my view, the doors of the Courts cannot be shut on her, even if her conduct may not be completely free from blemish."

In relation to the aspect of ability and capability of the Petitioner to earn income for herself, the Bench placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Shailja and Another v. Khobbanna, where the Court had made a distinction between the capability to earn and actually earning. It is held that merely because the wife is capable of earning, the same cannot be a reason to reduce maintenance awarded by the Family Court.

The Court thus held that mere possession of qualifications by a wife who is admittedly not employed, cannot ipso facto be a reason to deny interim maintenance altogether.

The Bench noted that the Respondent-husband had failed to prove that the Petitioner is actually employed.

Accordingly, the Court held that the Petitioner is entitled to interim maintenance of Rs. 7500/- during the pendency of the proceedings before the Family Court and partly allowed the Petition.

Cause Title - Aboil alias Yugandhara w/o Tejpal Patil v. Tejpal S/o Premchand Patil

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