Interim Maintenance Denied to wife Capable of working…Delhi Court

In a recent judgement of Delhi court..The magistrate court rejected interim maintainance application to wife who is capable of working.

Interim maintenance in matrimonial cases was originally designed to assist women who were financially dependent on their husbands and had no means of earning a livelihood, such as those who were uneducated or not working. However, today, many highly educated and employed women are also using this provision as a norm, raising questions about equality in society.

A recent case in Delhi saw a local court reject a wife’s request for interim maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) on March 2, 2023. The court stated that the woman was highly qualified and capable, and therefore dismissed her application.

The wife in this case filed a domestic violence case against her husband and in-laws, seeking interim maintenance of Rs 50,000 per month. However, the marriage was short-lived. In September 2020, the local court granted the woman interim maintenance of Rs 8,000 per month. The husband challenged this decision in the Delhi High Court, but the petition was dismissed. The High Court noted that the husband was wealthier than his wife and had a better lifestyle.

The husband argued that marriage was short lived and husband is also unemployed at the moment. His wife is MBA graduate and chose not to work deliberately.

respondent no.1 has stated in his income affidavit that he is MBBS D-Ortho and is residing in a rented accommodation and paying monthly rent of Rs. 16,000/. He is temporarily working at Ganga Ram Hospital as Senior Resident and earning Rs.92,000/- per month. He has no dependents. Further, he is making payment of Rs. 8000/- per Month

The Delhi Court also noted that the wife’s right to receive maintenance from her husband was not absolute. The wife needed to demonstrate her inability to sustain and manage even the basic necessities of life. Simply relying on the husband’s income and lifestyle was not enough to demand maintenance. The court further stated that the complainant must prove that she is not earning, or that her income is insufficient to maintain the same standard of living that she enjoyed in the matrimonial home.

It w a s held in Sunita Kachwaha (Supra) by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that:

“Inability to maintain herself is the pre-condition for grant of maintenance to the wife. The wife must positively aver and prove that she is unable to maintain herself, in addition t o the fact that her husband has sufficient m e a n s to maintain her and that he has neglected to maintain her. . Where the wife states that she has great hardships in maintaining herself and the daughters, while her husband’s economic condition is quite good, the wife would be entitled to maintenance”

Thus, the intention of the legislation is never to encourage

wilful unemployment and unnecessary dependence on the husband. The power of granting maintenance is also not intended to be exercised for equalising the income of the parties as held by Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Ritu Bhargav v. Sharad Bhargava, 2018 LAWPACK (Del) 79351.

“The perusal of the entire facts and circumstances of the present case and also the evidence on record, it is observed that the appellant’s monthly income is Rs. 44,740/- while the respondent is drawing an annual income of Rs.1,75,351/- ie. amounting approximately to Rs. 14,280/- per month. i is also seen as per the bank accounts and the Statement of Expenditure (s) as filed by the appellant that the appellant has sufficient means to maintain herself The observations adduced herein before lead to the only conclusion that there is no infirmity in the impugned order whereby the Family Court has struck a clear balance between the ability of the appellant/ wife to maintain herself and the extent of liability on her shoulders and has dismissed the subject application for maintenance. Section 24 of the HMA is not meant for equivalising the income of wife and with that of husband but to grant relief onlyin favor of a spouse who has no independent source of income for his other support”