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Is Rs.1,500 per month enough as maintenance for three children? No, said the Delhi High Court, which has pulled up a man for giving this paltry amount to his divorced wife for bringing up their three children. He has now been ordered to cough up a monthly maintenance of Rs.7,500 – or Rs.2,500 for each kid.

 Sabir Hussain, who divorced his wife Mumtaz Begum in 2006, was told that he was ‘equally responsible for bringing up the three children’.He will now have to pay Rs.2,500 for each child with effect from January 2006, which works out to be Rs.487,500 so far, apart from the regular maintenance every month from June onwards.In his judgment earlier this week, Justice A.K. Pathak said even though Hussain and Mumtaz, both government employees, were not living together any more, he cannot shirk from his responsibilities as a father.

‘A father cannot disown his responsibility to maintain his children,’ said the court.Mumtaz had approached a trial court against Hussain in January 2006, which then ordered him to pay a maintenance of Rs.1,000 for two children. The youngest child was not included.

However, Begum got interim relief in February 2006 from a higher bench of the trial court, which had directed Hussain to pay Rs.500 to the younger child too.But dissatisfied with the amount, Begum approached the high court in March this year.

In his judgment, Justice Pathak noted that at present, the expense incurred by Begum on each child was about Rs.5,000 per month, which included their school fee, transportation and daily expenses.

‘In my view, the amount awarded by the courts below cannot be termed as just and reasonable by any standard.‘In the overall facts and circumstances of the case, in my view, a sum of Rs.2,500 for each child would be just and appropriate,’ the judge said.The judge also set aside the earlier orders and asked Hussain to pay the amount with effect from January 2006.Hussain was also asked to pay the petitioner’s court fees of Rs.10,000.The judge brushed aside defence counsel’s plea that Hussain was now married and has the responsibility of another child.

‘I do not find much force in the contentions of counsel for the respondent. It is the legal and moral responsibility of each parent to look after their children. Future of the children cannot be put in jeopardy on account of matrimonial acrimony between the husband and wife.

‘The children are supposed to be provided education and maintain standard as per the joint income of their parents. Presently, they are studying in private schools. Their mother is singlehandedly taking care of them,’ he said.

‘Hussain is liable to share expenses incurred on their education and upbringing so as to ensure that their education is not disturbed and they are able to stand on their feet,’ the court added.

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