It’s a verdict that has shocked Delhi. A woman supporting four children on a monthly income of less than Rs 10,000 went to court to get a divorce and alimony.
Instead, this woman has been ordered to pay her husband a monthly alimony.
On her salary of Rs 9000 a month, Puja supports her children and runs a small home in Najafgarh in outer Delhi.
Now, she has to pay her former husband Rs 500 as monthly maintenance.
“I haven’t been able to pay my children’s school fee for three years. They may be thrown out. I have also had to mortgage this house. I don’t know how I will make ends meet. This is injustice,” said Puja Vijani, Petitioner.
After 20 years of marriage that Puja calls physically abusive, she filed for divorce a year back. She even asked for alimony hoping that whatever the court grants would help the family.
Instead, her husband convinced the court with medical certificates that he needed treatment and that he was without any livelihood. He convinced that he needed financial help more than his wife.
It’s an order that has taken many by surprise. A woman being asked to pay her husband alimony is not something that has happened many times in the past and whether it will now set a trend remains to be seen.
However, many feel this order is punitive in nature for a woman who has already faced harassment and victimization.
“It’s a shocking judgment. We’ve seen in so many such cases whenever it comes to paying maintenance, husbands become unemployed and go broke. Legally, it is permissible for a husband to be paid maintenance by his wife if he’s unable to support himself but these cases are extremely rare,” said Pinky Anand, Supreme Court Advocate.
Many feel the order should be challenged as it will send out a dangerous message.
“If this case sets a precedent, several women will face more torture and harassment than before. The woman in such a case is a victim. She leaves her home only when the torture becomes unbearable. If she is going to be punished further in this manner, life for her will become very difficult,” said Girija Vyas, Chairperson, NCW.
Puja wants to now appeal against the order and take her fight for justice to the High Court.