Sunday 18 February 2024

Whether husband can refuse to pay maintenance to wife if she is residing in matrimonial house?

The mere fact that she is residing in the matrimonial home is not a pretext to disentitle her to a reasonable amount of maintenance. She still needs some amount towards food, medicine, clothes and educational expenses for the child. Thus, considering the status of the parties, reasonable needs of the wife and minor son are parameters to be considered while determining the sufficiency and the reasonableness of the quantum of interim maintenance to be adjudged so that the wife is able to maintain herself and the minor son in reasonable comfort.




Rajkumar Amruthrao Guddadigi, Vs Shilaja Rajkumar Guddadigi,


PRONOUNCED ON : 4th January 2024.

1. Rule. Rule is made returnable forthwith. The Respondent has

filed his affidavit in reply. By consent of the parties, the matter is

taken up for final hearing.

2. The Petition challenges the quantum of interim maintenance

granted by the 6th Joint Civil Judge Senior Division, Kalyan to the

Respondent/wife and minor child on an application under Section 24

of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (“HMA”) made by Respondent.

3. The objective of granting interim maintenance is to ensure that

the dependent spouse is not reduced to destitution or vagrancy on

account of the failure of their marriage and not as a punishment to

the other side. There is no straight jacket formula for fixing the

quantum of maintenance to be awarded but the settled legal position

suggests that the amount of maintenance awarded must be

reasonable and realistic and avoid either of the two extremes, i.e., it

should neither be so extravagant which becomes oppressive and

unbearable for the Respondent, nor should it be so meager that it

drives the Applicant to penury. The Petitioner/husband claims that

the quantum awarded by the learned trial Judge is unfair and does

not balance equities. It is this dilemma which presents itself before

this Court for consideration in the present Petition.

4. The order dated 16th June 2023 impugned by the

Petitioner/husband directs him to pay an amount of Rs.15,000/- per

month to his wife and Rs.10,000/- per month to his minor son from

the date of filing the Application, i.e., 23rd August 2022 and

Rs.3,000/- towards litigation expenses.

5. The facts giving rise to the present proceeding are that the

parties were married on 26th June 2012 at Gulbarga, Karnataka as per rites and ceremonies of Hindu religion. There is one son namely

Ankush, presently about 10 years of age, born of the said marriage.

There was marital discord between the parties which resulted in

some acrimony leading to the parties’ separation. Admittedly, the

parties are residing separately from November 2021. It is the say of

the Petitioner that his wife deserted him without any justifiable

reason and despite his many very efforts, he was unable to convince

her to resume cohabitation. Ultimately, a Petition for divorce was

filed by him under Section 13(1)(ia) of the HMA against his wife in

the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Kalyan. The

Respondent/wife appeared in the matter and contested the Petition

by filing her written statement. She made an application under

Section 24 of the HMA seeking interim maintenance to the tune of

Rs.40,000/- per month each for herself and minor son Ankush. She

also sought litigation expenses of Rs.50,000/-. The trial Court after

hearing both sides partially allowed the Application and granted a

collective Rs.25,000/- to the wife and son in addition to Rs.3,000/- as

litigation expenses. It is this order that is assailed by the

Petitioner/husband in the present Petition.

6. Mr. Dilip Devadiga, learned Counsel appears for

Petitioner/husband. He draws to my attention the affidavit of income

and expenditure of both parties which have been placed on record in

the present Petition. Pointing to the personal information in his

wife’s affidavit, he contends that his wife is residing in the

matrimonial house owned by the Petitioner/husband and, therefore,

does not require any amount towards rent, as she has sought in

Clause (7) under the heading of personal information. He claims to

be paying Rs.60,000/- towards EMI of the said flat. He further points

to Clause (f) in her affidavit which indicates that she earns

approximately Rs.10,000/- per month by way of freelancing

recruitment. He also says that he himself is residing in a rented

accommodation with his mother and has to pay monthly rent of


7. Per contra, Mr. Vinay Kate, learned Counsel for the

Respondent/wife while admitting her residence in the matrimonial

home, points to the salary of the Petitioner affirmed in his own

affidavit which is Rs.1,02,330/- per month. The affidavit shows that

he is an Assistant Manager in M/s. Astec Life Science Ltd., Mahad,

M.I.D.C., Raigad and his gross salary is Rs.1,23,085/- per month. Mr.

Kate points to the admission of Petitioner/husband pertaining to

expenditure of Rs.5,00,000/- towards the education of minor son

Ankush. The affidavit shows that the Petitioner/husband admitted to

have spent Rs.1,05,000/- per year towards school fees of Ankush,

Rs.52,200/- towards the school bus, books and stationery expenses,

Rs.5,000/- for private tuition and other expenses of Rs.40,000/- on

the child. Mr. Kate says that thus the Petitioner/husband is capable

of spending Rs.5,00,000/- in one year on the education of the minor

son when he was only seven years old and this itself shows the

income and the status of the Petitioner/husband. He, thus, prayed

for rejection of the present Petition.

8. I have heard both counsels and have perused the documents

with their assistance.

9. The clear position emanating from the affidavits, admissions

and the documents comprising of bank statements of the Petitioner

on record indicate that the Petitioner/husband earns approximately

Rs.1,30,000/- per month, owns a car, has investments in shares, stays

in rented premises and has no dependents on him save and except his

wife and son. Against this, the wife is jobless, sometimes earning

Rs.10,000/- from freelancing work, resides in the matrimonial home

and single handedly takes care of and incurs expenditure of the

minor son.

10. The perusal of the order impugned indicates that the trial

Judge has taken into account all the facts necessary to be considered

for fair adjudication and determination of quantum of interim

maintenance. The trial Judge has applied all the settled parameters

while doing so. The Petitioner/husband is a qualified Engineer and is

suitably employed. His standard of living is fairly modest. The

Respondent/wife is also a qualified MBA but unable to hold down a

permanent job as she is single handedly looking after a ten years old.

The mere fact that she is residing in the matrimonial home is not a

pretext to disentitle her to a reasonable amount of maintenance. She

still needs some amount towards food, medicine, clothes and

educational expenses for the child. Thus, considering the status of

the parties, reasonable needs of the wife and minor son are

parameters to be considered while determining the sufficiency and

the reasonableness of the quantum of interim maintenance to be

adjudged so that the wife is able to maintain herself and the minor

son in reasonable comfort. The quantum of maintenance awarded by

the trial Judge is neither oppressive nor is it unendurable for the

Petitioner/husband and there is no hardship caused to him. The

amount of Rs.3,000/- is also reasonable for litigation expenses and

barely sufficient for her to defend herself in the divorce Petition

initiated by her husband. In view of the same, no interference is

required in the order impugned herein. The quantum of interim

maintenance, as adjudged by the trial Court, is reasonable and does

not suffer from any infirmity. The Petition is, thus, dismissed.

11. Rule is discharged. There is no order as to costs.

12. All interim reliefs granted earlier stand vacated forthwith.

13. It is made clear that the observations made in this order and

the interim order shall not affect the merits of the proceedings before

the trial Court.


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