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SC Takes Into Account Conduct Of Husband In Protracting Disposal Of Maintenance Petition To Enhance Maintenance Awarded To Wife
Reema Salkan vs Sumer Singh Salkan
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1220 OF 2018 (Arising out of SLP(Crl.) No.5495 of 2018)
About/from the judgment:
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, S.125–Maintenance–Non-earning Husband-Determination of monthly maintenance amount payable to the wife on the basis of notional minimum income of the husband as per the current minimum wages is untenable-Living standard of the husband, his family and his past conduct must be taken into consideration.
“The principle invoked by the High Court for determination of monthly maintenance amount payable to the appellant on the basis of notional minimum income of the respondent as per the current minimum wages in Delhi, in our opinion, is untenable.”
The Supreme Court has enhanced the maintenance amount to a wife taking into account the husband’s conduct in successfully protracting the disposal of the maintenance petition filed in the year 2003, until 2015.
The marriage in this case in effect lasted just four days. The differences sprang up suddenly and the litigation started by the wife in the year 2003 lasted for 15 long years and hopefully ends with this Supreme Court judgment now. The interim maintenance issue has travelled up to the apex court earlier also and it had fixed it as Rs.20, 000 per month. The family court had fixed the final maintenance amount as Rs.10,000 per month to be paid for the period 2003-2010 and the high court modified the order extending it to period beyond the year 2010, fixing it as Rs.9,000 per month. The wife assailed this order before the apex court.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud observed that the high court took into account all the relevant aspects and justly rejected the plea of the husband about inability to pay maintenance amount to the appellant on the finding that he was well-educated and an able-bodied person.
The bench observed that determination of monthly maintenance amount payable to the appellant on the basis of notional minimum income of the respondent as per the current minimum wages in Delhi is untenable.
The bench further added: “We are of the considered opinion that regard must be had to the living standard of the respondent and his family, his past conduct in successfully protracting the disposal of the maintenance petition filed in the year 2003, until 2015; coupled with the fact that a specious and unsubstantiated plea has been taken by him that he is unemployed from 2010, despite the fact that he is highly qualified and an able-bodied person; his monthly income while working in Canada in the year 2010 was over Rs.1,77,364; and that this Court in Criminal Appeal Nos.2347-2349/2014 has prima facie found that the cause of justice would be subserved if the appellant is granted an interim maintenance of Rs.20,000 per month commencing from November 1, 2014. At this distance of time, keeping in mind the spiraling inflation rate and high cost of living index today, to do complete justice between the parties, we are inclined to direct that the respondent shall pay a sum of Rs.20,000 per month to the appellant towards the maintenance amount with effect from January 2010 and at the rate of Rs.25,000 per month with effect from 1st June, 2018 until further orders. We order accordingly.”
The bench also rejected, rather ignored, the contention put forth on behalf of the husband that the maintenance should be in accordance with tenure of marriage, meaning thereby that long tenure marriages with children or even with just a long-term investment of time, loss of earnings and so on can be computed monetarily, but not so a 4-day marriage resulting in a 15-year litigation, driven by a desire for vengeance with a motive to harass.
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