Withdrawals and Deposits made along with Credit Card Statement can determine the Capacity of the Husband to Pay Maintenance

The Hon'ble High Court of Bombay in the Writ Petition No. 8825 of 2014 decided on 23rd August 2016 has observed that Withdrawals and Deposits made along with Credit Card Statement can determine the Capacity of the Husband to Pay Maintenance.

In this case after solemnization of marriage in 2005 and birth of a daughter in 2008, the Petitioner Wife was constrained in 2012 to leave her matrimonial home and come to reside at Mumbai with her mother. The Petitioner thereafter in 2012 filed a petition being MJ Petition No.C-04 of 2013 in the family Court seeking maintenance for herself and daughter and permanent custody of daughter. In December 2012 the Petitioner also filed a proceeding under sections 12, 18, 20, 22 and 23 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 before the Court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

During the said DV Proceedings the Respondent Husband showed his willingness to pay to the Petitioner an amount of Rs.50,000/- per month towards the interim maintenance in addition to the payment of rent for separate residence and for any unforeseen expenses of the daughter and / or the Petitioner Wife. The Petitioner Wife was, however, advised to withdraw the DV Act proceedings and accordingly she withdrew the same on 26th August 2013.

Thereafter the Petitioner Wife on 8th October 2013 in MJ Petition No. C-04 of 2013, filed an application under section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 seeking interim maintenance for herself @ Rs.2,50,000/- p.m. and for daughter @Rs.1,50,000/- p.m..

This writ petition under Articles 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India arises from an impugned interim maintenance order of the Family Court, Mumbai at Bandra wherein it has refused to grant any interim maintenance to the Petitioner Wife, however, daughter of the couple is granted interim maintenance @ Rs15,000/- per month.

The Petitioner Wife had contended that she no independent source of Income. Income Tax Returns which are relied upon by the Respondent Husband and Family Court reflect very meager purported income of the Respondent which is not at all commensurate with the status of the parties and is not sufficient to lead the standard of living to which parties were accustomed during their cohabitation.

The documents relied upon before the Family Court and this Court demonstrate that the Respondent Husband has significant income. It also discloses the high spending power and high standard of living of the parties during the time of their cohabitation.

The Petitioner Wife to substantiate her claim has relied on the bank statements of the Respondent Husband’s account from the year 2007-08 till the year 2012-13 along with the tax invoice of purchase of cut and polished diamond.

Similarly the Petitioner Wife also relied on the Credit Statement of the Respondent Husband for the year 2007-08 till the year 2013-14.

The Court has observed that the averments of the Respondent Husband made in the reply to DV Act proceedings coupled with the bank statements and credit card statements as well as document regarding hotel stay and purchase voucher demonstrate significant income, high spending power and high standard of living of the parties during their cohabitation. The parties are from the highest strata of the society and have enjoyed status as such.

The Hon'ble High Court while deciding the petition has held that the approach adopted by the Family Court is erroneous. What is required to be seen is that the status of the parties, their respective needs, the capacity of the husband to pay having regard to his reasonable expenses for his own maintenance and of those he is obliged under the law. Undoubtedly, the documents relied upon by the Petitioner-wife show very strong financial capacity of the Respondent which could not have been ignored by the family Court while considering the grant of interim maintenance ......... The Petitioner wife is entitled to lead the standard of life similar to that of the husband

The Court considering the above circumstances thereby has ordered that, Taking totality of the facts and circumstances of the case into consideration especially the deposits and withdrawals of amounts by the Respondent as disclosed from the bank statement and debit card statements and statement made by the Respondent in his reply in the DV Act proceedings, in my opinion, the ends of justice would be met if the Respondent is directed to pay to the Petitioner interim maintenance @ Rs.1 lac per month from the date of the impugned order

Similarly the Respondent Husband was directed pay Rs. 25,000 p.m. as interim maintenance for the daughter thereby disposing the petition.