Maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty
Vikas Bhutani Vs State & Anr
CRL.REV.P. 579/2017 & Crl.M.A.12671/2017 (stay)
About/from the judgment:
The High Court has held in Vikas Bhutani v. State & Anr that maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty and it is awarded to her for her survival.
Court answered in light of the objective of "maintenance" provision for women and observed:
"The object of grant of maintenance is to afford a subsistence allowance to the wife, who is not able to maintain herself, then the award normally should be from the date of the application. For the court to award maintenance from the date of the order there have to be compelling circumstances for the court to take such a view."
It noted further:
"Maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty. It is awarded to her so that she can survive. The fact that time is spent between the date of the application and a final adjudication and an award in favour of the wife, does not mean that she had enough funds to maintain herself."
Petitioner husband had challenged the order of the Trial Court whereby latter had assessed and fixed an amount of Rs. 40, 000 as interim maintenance for respondent-wife, who had filed an application under Section 12 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Counsel for the petitioner submitted before the present court that the Trial Court has erred in not appreciating that the respondent had already filed an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C and interim maintenance of Rs.15,000/- was assessed in the said application and petitioner had continued to pay the said amount of Rs.15,000/- per month.
Court was, however, informed that the said application under Section 125 Cr.P.C has since been withdrawn.
Counsel for the petitioner further submitted that the Trial Court erred in relating back the maintenance to the date of the application and not restricting it to the date of order as respondent is already receiving maintenance of Rs.15,000/- under orders passed in an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. The quantum assessed by the trial court has not been assailed on merits, he contended.
Court rejecting the contention held that "when the trial court comes to conclusion after trial that the wife is entitled to an amount of maintenance, the assessment in fact relates back to the date of the application. When the assessment relates back to the date of the application then there have to be compelling circumstances for the trial court to restrict the award of maintenance to a period post the date of the order."
Court placed reliance on judgment of Supreme Court in Jaiminiben Hirenbhai Vyas& Anr vs Hirenbhai Ramesh Chandra Vyas &Anr. (2015) 2 SCC 385 which was on similar lines besides quoting judgment of Delhi High Court itself in Rekha Sabharwal & Anr. Vs Jitender Sabharwal 2018 SCC OnLine Del 12448; Crl.M.C.3647 of 2014 in which court held that the maintenance is to relate back to the date of the application and not from the date of the order.
Court said that it is clear that maintenance is to be from the date of the application and there is no challenge to the quantum of maintenance assessed by the trial court. The court accordingly dismissed the petition and directed the petitioner to pay maintenance at the rate of Rs. 40,000/- per month from the date of filing of the application i.e. March 2014. It said, however, he would be entitled to an adjustment of the amount that he has already paid in terms of the order passed in the application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. and the interim orders passed by the court.
Petitioner was represented by advocate Prateek Chaturvedi and respondent (s) by AFP Hirein Sharma (for the State) and Nishant Solanki (for respondent woman).
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