What percentage of a man’s salary should go as alimony to one’s estranged wife? The Supreme Court has set this figure at 25 percent, calling it a “just and fair” amount.
As reported by The Media, the apex court made this observation while directing a resident of West Bengal’s Hoogly district earning Rs 95,527 a month, to pay Rs 20,000 towards alimony to his ex-wife and son. The man had appealed in the Supreme Court against an earlier Calcutta High Court order.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and M M Santanagoudar set the bench mark while directing a resident of West Bengal’s Hoogly, earning Rs 95,527 a month, to set aside Rs 20,000 as maintenance for his former wife and their son, turning down the man’s plea that the amount was excessive. The court said the amount of maintenance or permanent alimony should be enough to ensure that a woman live with dignity after separating from her husband.
The order came after a man challenged a Calcutta high court order directing him to pay her Rs 23,000 per month. Though the apex court said there was nothing amiss in the high court order, it reduced the amount by Rs 3,000 on the ground that the man had remarried and hence needed to provide for his new family.
“Twenty-five percent of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the (former) wife. The amount of permanent alimony awarded to her must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, which is always dependent on the factual situation of the case… and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors,” the bench said.
This is the second decision on alimony the apex court has taken in under a month, coming just days after it held that a woman is entitled to maintenance from her estranged husband even if she was the one deserting him.
As reported by The Media on 7 April, the Supreme Court faced a dilemma when one Manoj Kumar challenged a judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which had ordered him to pay an alimony of Rs 3,000 per month to Champa Devi despite the divorce being granted on ground of desertion.
The apex court had held that though the woman isn’t entitled to maintenance as per legal technicality, social welfare should dictate she should get alimony after divorce if she is unable to sustain herself.
The couple was fighting a legal battle over maintenance since 2003 when the district judge fixed the amount at Rs 4,500. The high court, however, awarded Rs 16,000 per month in 2015 and increased the amount to Rs 23,000 in 2016 as the husband’s salary went up from Rs 63,842 to Rs 95,527.