A Qualified Wife capable of earning may be denied Interim Maintenance

In MAT. App. (F.C.) 143/2014 decided on 05.09.2016 the High Court of Delhi has held that "wife who is a qualified Chartered Accountant and in profession since the year 2003 need not be granted interim maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act".

The respondent/husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage under Section 13 (1)(ia) of the Hindu Marriage Act. In the divorce petition, the wife filed an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act seeking interim maintenance for a sum of Rs. 3,00,000/- per month for herself and the two children and Rs. 1,10,000/- towards litigation expenses.

The learned Family Court passed an order in the said petition dated 06.09.2014 whereby learned Judge Family Court awarded a sum of 22,900/- per month towards maintenance to the two children of the parties but declined to award interim maintenance to her as she is a qualified Chartered Accountant having sufficient means to maintain herself.

Aggrieved by the order the impugned order has been challenged by the appellant/wife mainly on the ground that her income prior to separation has been wrongly taken into account and the view taken about her monthly income to be not less than Rs. 40,000/- in contrast to her claim of earning Rs.7,000/- per month is erroneous and liable to be set aside. Another ground of challenge is that income of her husband which is not less than Rs. 8,00,000/- per month has wrongly been assessed as Rs. 1,10,000/- per month.

The High Court has relied on 2 judgments to decide the same matter:

  • Smt. Mamta Jaiswal v. Rajesh Jaiswal: Madhya Pradesh High Court
    Section 24 has been enacted for the purpose of providing a monetary assistance to such spouse who is incapable of supporting himself or herself in spite of sincere efforts made by him or herself. A spouse who is well qualified to get the service immediately with less effort is not expected to remain idle to squeeze out, to milk out the other spouse by relieving him of his or her own purse by a cut in the nature of pendent lite alimony. The law does not expect the increasing number of such idle persons who by remaining in the arena of legal battles, try to squeeze out the adversary by implementing the provisions of law suitable to their purpose.

    A lady who is fighting matrimonial petition filed for divorce, cannot be permitted to sit idle and to put her burden on the husband for demanding pendente lite alimony from him during pendency of such matrimonial petition. Section 24 is not meant for creating an army of such idle persons who would be sitting idle waiting for a 'dole' to be awarded by her husband who has got a grievance against her and who has gone to the Court for seeking a relief against her. The case may be vice-versa also. If a husband well qualified, sufficient enough to earn, sits idle and puts his burden on the wife and waits for a 'dole' to be awarded by remaining entangled in litigation. That is also not permissible. The law does not help indolents as well idles so also does not want an army of self-made lazy idles. Everyone has to earn for the purpose of maintenance of himself or herself, atleast, has to make sincere efforts in that direction. If this criteria is not applied, if this attitude is not adopted, there would be a tendency growing amongst such litigants to prolong such litigation and to milk out the adversary who happens to be a spouse, once dear but far away after an emerging of litigation. If such army is permitted to remain in existence, there would be no sincere efforts of amicable settlements because the lazy spouse would be very happy to fight and frustrate the efforts of amicable settlement because he would be reaping the money in the nature of pendente lite alimony, and would prefer to be happy in remaining idle and not bothering himself or herself for any activity to support and maintain himself or herself. That cannot he treated to be aim, goal of Section 24. It is indirectly against healthiness of the society. It has enacted for needy persons who in spite of sincere efforts and sufficient efforts are unable to support and maintain themselves and are required to fight out the litigation jeopardizing their hard earned income by toiling working hours. "

  • Padmja Sharma v. Ratan Lal Sharma: Supreme Court
    "maintenance includes (i) in all cases, provisions for food, clothing residence, education and medical attendance and treatment; (ii) in the case of an unmarried daughter also the reasonable expenses of and incident to her marriage." and under Clause (c) "minor means a person who has not completed his or her age of eighteen years," Under Section 18 of Maintenance Act a Hindu wife shall be entitled to be maintained by her husband during her life time. This is of course subject to certain conditions with which we are not concerned. Section 20 provides for maintenance of children and aged parents. Under this Section a Hindu is bound, during his or her life time, to maintain his or her children. A minor child so long as he is minor can claim maintenance from his or her father or mother. Section 20 is, therefore, to be contrasted with Section 18. Under this Section it is as much the obligation of the father to maintain a minor child as that of the mother. It is not the law that how affluent mother may be it is the obligation only of the father to maintain the minor. "

  • The Court has accordingly ordered that "The appellant/wife who is a qualified Chartered Accountant and in profession since the year 2003 need not be granted interim maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act".