Under the law the burden is placed in the first place upon the wife to show that the means of her husband are sufficient

Chaturbhuj vs Sita Bai

Supreme Court

27/11/2007

AIR 2008 SC 530 : 2007 (12) SCR 577 : (2008) 2 SCC 316 : 2007 (13) SCALE 402 : JT 2008 (1) SC 78

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court held that maintenance under Section 125 Cr.P.C. is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children and falls within constitutional sweep of Article 15(3) reinforced by Article 39 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

 

A court observed that it provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.

 

It gives effect to fundamental rights and natural duties of a man to maintain his wife, children and parents when they are unable to maintain themselves.

the Judgment said.

 

Maintenance

 

While dismissing the appeal, the Apex Court held that the object of the maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy by compelling those who can provide support to those who are unable to support themselves and who have a moral claim to support.

 

Words and phrases: “unable to maintain herself” – Meaning of.

 

The phrase “unable to maintain herself” would mean that means available to the deserted wife while she was living with her husband and would not take within itself the efforts made by the wife after desertion to survive somehow.

 

Under the law, the burden is placed in the first place upon the wife to show that the means of her husband are sufficient. In the instant case, there is no dispute that the appellant has the requisite means. But there is an inseparable condition which has also to be satisfied that the wife was unable to maintain herself. These two conditions are in addition to the requirement that the husband must have neglected or refused to maintain his wife.

 

The appellant has placed material to show that the respondent-wife was earning some income. That is not sufficient to rule out application of s.125 Cr.P.C. It has to be established that with the amount she earned the respondent-wife was able to maintain herself.

 

Whether the deserted wife was unable to maintain herself, has to be decided on the basis of the material placed on record. Where the personal income of the wife is insufficient she can claim maintenance under s.125 Cr.P.C. The test is whether the wife is in a position to maintain herself in the way she was used to at the place of her husband.

 

The trial Court, the Revisional Court and the High Court analysed the evidence and held that the respondent wife was unable to maintain herself. The conclusions are essentially factual and they are not perverse. That being so there is no scope for interference in this appeal.

 

Facts of the Case

 

The respondent-wife filed an application under s.125 Cr.P.C. claiming Rs.10,000/- as maintenance from the appellant-husband. In the application, it was claimed that she was unemployed and unable to maintain herself. The stand of the appellant was that the wife was living in the house constructed by him; that she had let out the house on rent and since 1979 was residing with one of their sons; that the wife had sold the agricultural land and sale proceeds were still with her; and that she could maintain herself from the money received from the sale of agricultural land and rent.

 

Considering the evidence on record, the trial Court directed husband to pay Rs.1500 per month opining that the wife did not have sufficient means to maintain herself. The revisional Court analysed the evidence and dismissed the revision petition holding that the appellant’s monthly income was more than Rs.10,000/- and the amount received as rent by the respondent-wife was not sufficient to maintain herself.

 

Appellant filed an application under s.482 Cr.P.C. before the High Court. The High Court dismissed the application holding that the conclusions by the trial Court and the Revisional Court were arrived at on appreciation of evidence and therefore there was no scope for any interference. Hence the present appeal.

Read the Judgment

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