Mere possession of educational qualification does not mean that wife is able to maintain herself

Mere possession of educational qualification does not mean that wife is able to maintain herself

R D Rajeev Vs Roopa

Karnataka HC

25/01/2021

R.P.F.C. No. 133 OF 2014

About/from the judgment:

The High Court has held that mere possession of an educational qualification by a wife cannot by itself be a factor to conclude that she can maintain herself.

While dismissing a revision petition filed by the husband challenging the family court order which directed him to pay Rs 3,000 per month to his estranged wife, the court held,

"A mere possession of certain qualification by ipso facto cannot be considered that, a woman is able to maintain herself. May be in the circumstances of the case, a person's educational qualification may come to his help or rescue in applying for jobs or in his attempt to fetch some livelihood or pursuing some avocation. By mere possession of such educational qualification itself, one cannot jump to a conclusion that such a qualification holder, particularly a wife under Section 125 of Cr.P.C., is able to maintain herself."

The Court added that there may be several reasons for a woman to resign from a job and expect her husband to maintain her.

"There may be several reasons for a woman even to resign from a job in which she worked at one particular point of time and expect her husband to maintain her. Unless it is brought on record through cogent evidence that such an act of resigning from job or leaving avocation was only with an intention to compel her husband to pay her maintenance, which circumstances probably may warrant a different finding."

Factual Matrix

The couple had gotten married in the year 2003, as per Hindu rites. Differences arose between them after the husband found out that the wife had trouble conceiving children. Thereafter, they separated and the wife continued to resides separately in her brother's house at Mysuru.

The wife had filed an application before the family court under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 seeking maintenance from the husband at the rate of Rs. 5,000 per month.

The husband, in turn, filed a matrimonial case before the same family court under Section 13 (1) (i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, seeking dissolution of the marriage

On January 3, 2013, the family court allowed the petition filed by the husband for divorce. It also allowed the petition filed by the wife for maintenance in part, and directed the husband to pay Rs. 3,000 per month as maintenance from the date of the petition.

Aggrieved by this, the husband approached the High Court seeking to set aside the 2013 family court order.

Arguments Advanced

Counsel for the husband claimed that the wife is a double graduate who can therefore fend for herself, without troubling the petitioner husband for maintenance.

It was also contended that the wife had suppressed her medical inability to bear children, and therefore, ruined his life. In this context, it was submitted that he was unable to pay her a monthly maintenance.

Amicus curiae appointed by the Court, submitted that having a higher educational qualification would not by itself help a person earn her livelihood.

It was further contended that though the wife may have the capacity to earn, she was unable to do so for various reasons, including medical reasons.

What the Court held

The Court concurred with the submission put forth by the amicus curiae and held that Section 125 (1)(a) and (b) of the CrPC clearly mentions that it is not the capacity of the wife or the children which entitles them for claiming maintenance, but, it is their inability to maintain themselves.

"A reading of the above Section, more particularly sub-section (1)(a) and 1(b) of the said Section would clearly go to show that, what the law requires is, wife's or daughters' inability to maintain themselves...

...Though a person may have eligibility to be appointed in a post in any public office or may have a good educational qualification, but still, he/she may be unable to earn his/her livelihood because of lack of any employment or any inability to earn. It is in that context, the facts and circumstances of each and every case has to be analysed,"
the Court said.

The Court stated that though the wife was an M.A., M.Ed., graduate, she could not get any job. In that light, she was unable to maintain herself. This aspect was not seriously considered by the petitioner, remarked the Court.

The Court also proceeded to reject the argument of the petitioner saying that the respondent had suppressed her medical incapability to bear children.

"The said argument of the learned counsel, at the threshold itself is liable to be rejected, since the said attitude of the husband if he maintains the same, is nothing but a revenge of a person against another person for no valid reason. Such a revengeful attitude finds no place in the law..."

Given the scheme of the law, the Court made it clear,

"Giving maintenance to the wife is not merely a pleasure for the husband but it is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife, who herself is unable to maintain herself. In such a situation, if the wife has satisfied that she has got a valid reason to live separately or live away from her husband and when, she is unable to maintain herself, then it would be the duty of the husband to maintain her".

On these grounds, the Court refused to set aside the family court order.

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