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Interim maintenance sought u/s 23 of DV Act can't be denied unless it is proved that wife is gainfully employed
Kanupriya Sharma Vs State and Anr
CRL. REV. PET. 849/2018 & Crl. M.A. 33234/2018
About/from the judgment:
The Delhi High Court has held that once interim maintenance is sought by a wife under Section 23 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, it cannot be denied to her unless she is gainfully employed drawing a salary.
The Court was hearing a criminal review petition filed by one Kanupriya Sharma, challenging an order of the appellate court wherein an order awarding interim maintenance to Kanupriya of Rs.16,500 per month was set aside.
According to the petitioner, she got married to her husband on February 14, 2015, and the bride's parents spent lavishly fulfilling all the demands of her husband and his family.
She was residing in her matrimonial home in Muradnagar, Uttar Pradesh, along with her husband and his family. She alleged cruelty by her in-laws who were dissatisfied with the dowry articles. Further, it was alleged that all her jewellery articles and Istridhan (dowry) were taken by her in-laws on the pretext of keeping them safe in a bank locker.
It was also alleged that Kanupriya was consistently harassed by her husband and her in-laws. One day, Kanupriya's husband left the matrimonial house in Muradnagar, Ghaziabad, and started living in Pune and refused to return to the matrimonial home. Subsequently, when the petitioner went to live with her husband in Pune, she came to know that he was living in a flat which was in a dilapidated condition and did not even have separate toilet facilities; however, she was forced to live with her husband there. It is alleged that she was also neglected because of which she became unwell and was forced to leave her matrimonial home and live with her parents in Muradnagar. Thereafter she shifted to Laxmi Nagar, Delhi, as she was preparing for bank examination.
The petitioner filed an application under Section 23 of the DV Act for interim maintenance and in an order dated June 26, 2018, the trial court granted interim maintenance of Rs.16,500. The husband filed an appeal in the appellate court and the order of maintenance was reversed. This reversal was challenged before the high court by the petitioner.
The court observed-
"There is no material produced by Respondent no. 2 either before the Trial Court, Appellate Court or before this court to show that the Petitioner, in fact, had secured any employment or was receiving any salary or income. An application under Section 23(1) of the D.V. Act is an application for fixing interim maintenance. Interim maintenance is fixed on taking a prima facie view of the matter. Serious disputed questions of facts raised at that stage, requiring evidence cannot be gone into. Unless undisputed evidence is produced by the husband clearly establishing that the wife is gainfully employed, relief of interim maintenance cannot be declined."
The bench further noted-
"As noticed above, no material has been produced by Respondent no. 2 to show that the Petitioner is gainfully employed or receiving any salary and actually earning. The pleas raised by the Respondent no. 2 would be required to be established at trial. Till Respondent no. 2 establishes by leading cogent evidence that Petitioner is gainfully employed and receiving salary, there is no justification to deny maintenance to the Petitioner-wife."
Thus, the petition was allowed and the trial court's order awarding maintenance of Rs.16,500 per month for the wife was restored.
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