No Income and Duty to Maintain Wife: Law for Husband

Posted On : March 17, 2022
No Income and Duty to Maintain Wife: Law for Husband
Maintenance in a layman's understanding can be stated as the financial support given to a person for its day to day survival and expenditure. On presumption it mostly covers the expenses for necessaries or essentials for the substance of life. The word 'Maintenance' does not have any detailed or contemporary definition in any act, yet the layman view it as a compulsory monetary support guaranteed by the law to their closed knit relation who does not have any sufficient means to support itself.

The plea of husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolute him of his duty to maintain his wife

It is a moral and social obligation imposed upon the person as legal sanction through various provisions of law such as Section 125 to 128 under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Section 24 and 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and even under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act,1956 and The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The basic foundation which is considered for the maintenance is that the inability of a person which can lead him to those social paths which can never be beneficial for the wife, child, husband or parent. Such inabilities are suffered not by just one person but by a large populace of that state, converting a micro level inability into a macro level inability of the society.

       It is noticed with the increase in the legal awareness among the people and knowledge of their rights, maintenance had gained strong ground when it comes to the dispute among the family members especially in matrimonial matters. It is even pertinent to note that there is a trend, whenever any petition filed regarding the maintenance either interim or permanent, the wife states herself as house-wife with no means of earning and is dependent upon her husband to fulfil her basic necessities and support her standard of living whereas the husband makes the submission stating himself as the meagre earning person or with no income or livelihood. Hence, for such situations there are certain established case laws by Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Courts, where they have explained criteria for resolving such disputes.

Bhuwan Mohan Singh v Meena &Ors.  

[(2015) 6 SCC 353]

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held, “…….it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife and minor children, the husband was required to earn money even by physical labour, if he is able-bodied, and could not avoid his obligation, except on any legally permissible ground mentioned in the statute.”

Rajnesh vs Neha &Anr. 

[Cr. Appeal No. 730/2020 : SLP[Crl.] No. 9503/2018]

In this case the Hon’ble Supreme Court had stated certain guidelines regarding the disclosure of income of the spouses such as when there is any obstruction with respect to the income and assets information made in the Affidavit of Disclosure, the party in dispute can request the Court to serve interrogatories, and seek production of relevant documents from the opposite party under Order XI of the CPC. On making such submission through Affidavit, the Court may invoke the provisions of Order X of the C.P.C or Section 165 of the Evidence Act 1872, depending upon the circumstances. Sometimes the income of one party is often not exactly known to the other spouse, then the Court may invoke Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872, since the income, assets and liabilities of the spouse are within the personally known to the party concerned. Even, if during the tenure of proceedings, there is a change in the financial status of any party, or there is a change of any relevant circumstances, the spouse may submit an amended / supplementary affidavit, which will be noted by the court at the final disposal.

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Manish Jain v Akanksha Jain 

[(2017) 15 SCC 801 ]

The Hon’ble Supreme Court had opined that the financial position of the parents of the wife claiming maintenance, would not be considered in determining the amount of maintenance. An order of interim maintenance is conditional on the circumstance that the wife or husband who makes a claim has no independent income, whether it is sufficient for her or his support. It is no answer to a claim of maintenance that the wife is educated and could support herself. The court must take into consideration the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay for her or his support. Maintenance is dependent upon factual situations; the Court should mould the claim for maintenance based on various factors brought before it.

Reema Salkan v Sumer Singh Salkan 

[(2019) 12 SCC 303]

It is another where the Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that the financial capacity of the husband, his actual income, reasonable expenses for his own maintenance, and dependant family members whom he is obliged to maintain under the law, liabilities if any, would be required to be taken into consideration, to arrive at the appropriate quantum of maintenance to be paid. The Court must have due regard to the standard of living of the husband, as well as the spiraling inflation rates and high costs of living. The plea of the husband that he does not possess any source of income ipso facto does not absolve him of his moral duty to maintain his wife if he is able bodied and has educational qualifications.

Bharat Hedge v Smt. Saroj Hegde 

[140 (2007) DLT 16]

In this above mentioned case, Delhi High Court laid down the following factors to be considered for determining maintenance :

“- Status of the parties.

- Reasonable wants of the claimant. 

-The independent income and property of the claimant. 

- The number of persons, the non-applicant has to maintain. 

- The amount should aid the applicant to live in a similar lifestyle as he/she enjoyed in the matrimonial home. 

- Non-applicant’s liabilities, if any. 

- Provisions for food, clothing, shelter, education, medical attendance and treatment etc. of the applicant. 

- Payment capacity of the non-applicant. 

 Some guess work is not ruled out while estimating the income of the non-applicant when all the sources or correct sources are not disclosed.  

-The non-applicant to defray the cost of litigation. 

-The amount awarded u/s 125 Cr.PC is adjustable against the amount awarded u/ 24 of the Act. 17.”

Hence, when the maintenance amount is pleaded or awarded, it must be reasonable, realistic and not arbitrary. It ought to avoid either of the two extremes i.e. maintenance awarded to the wife should neither be so abundant which becomes sufferable,oppressive and unbearable for the husband, nor should it be so less that it leads the wife to deficiency. The sufficiency of the quantum has to be adjudged so that the wife is able to maintain herself with reasonable comfort.

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