Delhi High Court: A Bench of Jyoti Singh and G.S. Sistani, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed against the order of the family court rejecting the appellant-wife’s application for grant of maintenance pendente lite under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1951.

The parties married to each-other in June 2012 and had been living separately since September of that year. The wife was living in Gurgaon and the husband was in Singapore. The husband sought a decree of nullity of marriage under Section 12(1)(a) and (c), pending which the wife filed the application under Section 24 claiming pendente lite maintenance of Rs 2.50 lakhs per month along with litigation expenses. The same was rejected by the family court. Aggrieved thereby, the wife filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the wife was well educated and earning a monthly salary of around Rs 1.25 lakhs. On the other hand, the husband was also at a senior position in a reputed company in Singapore and was earning about Rs 13 lakhs per month. Noting all the facts and discussing the law on the subject, the Court was of the view that the impugned order does not need interference. Observing that the cost of living as per the standards of the country where the husband is employed is to be considered, the Court stated, 

“We cannot agree with the contention of the appellant that merely because the respondent is earning in ‘dollars’ she is entitled to the maintenance claimed by converting his salary in dollars into Indian rupees. We agree with the respondent that his expenditure being in dollars, the salary being in dollars is a fact which cannot be overemphasized.”

Being satisfied that wife’s earnings were sufficient to maintain herself, it was stated, “The provisions of this section (Section 24) are not meant to equalize the income of the wife with that of the husband but are only to see that when divorce or other matrimonial proceedings are filed, either of the party should not suffer because of paucity of source of income and the maintenance is then granted to tie over the litigation expenses and to provide a comfortable life to the spouse. Where, however, both the spouses are earning and have a good salary, merely because there is some salary difference cannot be a reason for seeing maintenance.”

KN v. RG, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7704, dated 12-02-2019]