The Delhi High Court has ruled that a wife, though separated, is entitled to maintenance depending on her husband’s financial position.
“A life on alimony is not to be a life different from what the wife would have led if the relationship had not gone sour. The quantum of maintenance inter alia depends upon the status of the husband,” a division bench of acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
It rejected the argument that if a husband provides food and shelter after a separation, he owes nothing more to his wife.
“The women, even when rarely going out of the house and when the entire expense of the household was met by the husband, were still found entitled to an amount for their own spending. In certain regions, the said amount also went by the name of “Hath Kharch” (pin money),” the bench observed.
Noting that money is required to fulfill the other day-to-day needs including of clothing, entertainment and personal effects of the wife, the court said: “It is unbelievable that if the relations had been good, the husband if had been providing boarding and lodging, would not have provided anything further to the wife.”
The court passed the judgment while raising the monthly maintenance amount of a woman, who is a housewife with no other source of income, from Rs.60,000 per month to Rs.150,000.
The couple, with two children, had got married in 1981 and were subsequently separated but were living in the same house. The woman moved the high court challenging a Family Court ruling which fixed the monthly maintenance at Rs.60,000.
In 2002, the husband had agreed to pay Rs.150,000 per month to his wife. However, he stopped the payments after four months and his wife approached the Family Court.
Declining to give further maintenance the husband, a well-qualified doctor and businessman, had contended that he was looking after all the financial needs of his wife and as such she did not require any maintenance.
He further contended that he had deposited Rs.2 crores in the court for his wife in a dispute relating to the partnership of hotel Marina, in which she had an eight percent share.
He also alleged that his wife also owned a 1,000 sq. yards plot in Faridabad.
The wife had predicated her claim at Rs.150,000 per month on the basis of the 2002 agreement, that she was not working and had no other source of income.
Taking into account the daily expenses, the court said: “Money is required to fulfill the other day-to-day needs including of clothing, personal effects etc. of the wife. Similarly money is required for entertainment. A life on alimony is not to be a life different from what the wife would have led if the relationship had not gone sour.”
The bench cited a Supreme Court judgment reiterating that the test to be applied is to place the wife in the same position as she would have been if the relationship had continued.