In its order dated September 2019, Supreme Court declined to award any maintenance to working wife with sufficient salary, however, the top court did instruct the father to bear all maintenance expenses for their daughter.
A bench of Justice Shantanagoudar and Justice Khanna passed the order in the case titled as KUSUM BHATIA vs SAGAR SETHI on 16.09.2019 (detailed order at the end of this article)
A decree was passed on 21.03.2009 in HMA 128/2008 by Additional District Judge (ADJ), Delhi, whereby the learned ADJ while allowing the petition under Section 13(1)(ia) and (ib) of the HMA, had passed a decree of dissolution of marriage in favour of the husband and against the wife.
The woman challenged the divorce decree before the Delhi High Court. After detailed discussions, the High Court upheld the divorce stating:
The parties have lived apart for approximately 10 years. Various police complaints /CAW Cell complaints were filed by the appellant and the family members of the respondent. There appears to be no possibility of the revival of the matrimonial relationship between the parties, and the relationship between the parties has irretrievably broken down.
The marriage is as good as dead. The irretrievable breakdown is the result of the conduct of the appellant and the respondent/husband is entitled to a decree of divorce under Sections 13(1)(ia) and (ib) of the Act.
The wife once again challenged the order before the Supreme Court which dismissed the petition. However, before dismissing the petition, the Supreme Court dealt with the issue of maintenance.
Maintenance Towards Wife & Minor Daughter
The father offered to deposit a total sum of Rs 30 lakh in favour of his minor daughter who was 16-years-old. However, additionally the apex court also urged him to deposit another Rs 15 lakh towards marriage and other miscellaneous expenses of the child.
The father then agreed to pay another Rs 10 lakh in two installments over the next four years. The wife had been instructed to keep the same as fixed deposit for next four years, while she could choose to utilise the interest amount towards the maintenance of the child.
With regards to maintenance for working wife, court noted:
Since, the petitioner is a working lady with sufficient salary, we decline to award any maintenance in her favour.
- The contested divorce system in India is totally inhuman and makes no sense practically
- The wife kept contesting divorce decree despite living separately from the man for more than a decade
- Such cases largely demonstrate the false ego that some women may want to settle using the gender biased laws in their favour
- While top court has rightly denied the working woman any maintenance, the expenses of the minor daughter should have also been equally shared amongst divorced parents, especially when the mother is also working and has her independent source of income
- Often, in custody cases, fathers are turned into mere ATMs, while mothers enjoy the sole benefits of a child’s love and affection — at the expense of the man!