Last week, Supreme Court seems to have defied every single basis of Gender Equality by ruling that an educated and well qualified wife, who has been divorced on the grounds of desertion, is entitled to claim maintenance from her ex-husband. Well, perhaps the bench too has it’s hands tied down with our archaic and regressive laws.
Whatever the reason be, this judgement is going to set a very wrong precedent, which can encourage several other women to just desert their husbands and claim maintenance at any point in life, even after being divorced.
- Couple’s marital dispute started nearly 32-years-ago, when the wife had deserted her husband (since 1987)
- In 1992, the husband filed for a judicial separation
- In 1997, the husband also filed for divorce and the same was granted to him in the year 2000 on ground of desertion by wife
- During this period from 1987 to 2000 when the wife was living separately from her husband, she did not file any petition for grant of maintenance
- Even during the divorce proceedings, though an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was filed, it seems that the same was either dismissed for non-prosecution or was not pressed
- The husband later remarried in 2001, and it is only then that the ex-wife returned and slapped a new case of maintenance claim on the already divorced husband
In the above scenario, the Supreme Court said,
That, according to us, will make no difference because it is for the wife to decide when she wants to file a petition for maintenance. She may have felt comfortable with whatever earnings she had upto that time or may be she did not want to precipitate matters till she was contesting the divorce petition by filing a claim for maintenance.
Whatever be the reason, the mere fact that the wife did not file a petition for grant of maintenance during the pendency of the matrimonial proceedings, is no ground to hold that she is not entitled to file such a petition later on.
A bench headed by Justice Deepak Gupta also dismissed the petitioner’s (husband) plea to refer the matter to a larger bench.
This view has been consistently taken by this Court and the said view is in line with both the letter and spirit of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The apex court further declined to entertain the contentions raised by the husband that the wife being a qualified architect from a reputed university would be presumed to have sufficient income. The court said,
No evidence has been led to show what is the income of the wife or where the wife is working. It was for the husband to lead such evidence. In the absence of any such evidence no presumption can be raised that the wife is earning sufficient amount to support herself.
We wonder why the bench has chosen to give such a biased order in woman’s favour? Maintenance is supposed to support a woman during divorce proceedings so that she can live with respect, however, this judgement encourages women to make it into an Asset building exercise. If an ex-wife can keep claiming money from a man who is re-married, what implications will the new family have?
All we can say is Dowry is a crime, but this reverse Dowry is putting a gun on man’s head and forcing him to pay an abled woman forever.
Below blog has been well articulated on how the Supreme Court’s verdict “is neither the intention of the legislature, nor in the interest of justice, equity or logic.”