MUMBAI: Pointing out that it was a joint decision to enroll their children in a top city school, the Bombay HC recently dismissed the plea of a company’s managing director who claimed he could not afford the maintenance required to provide for his children’s education.
A division bench of chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar said he would have to pay Rs 65,000 as monthly maintenance for his two children.
“The fact (is) both had taken a joint decision to get the children admitted to a reputed school,” said the judges. Interfering with the family court’s order of the interim maintenance “would result in dislocation of the studies of the children in a reputed school where they were admitted at the behest of the (couple)”, they added.
A family court had fixed Rs 65,000 as half the monthly expenses for education and other needs of the two children of Nitin Mehta and his wife Neetha as both were working. But Nitin had appealed against the interim maintenance, claiming that he earned barely Rs 25,000 a month.
Nitin and Neetha’s divorce case is pending before the family court. The court had computed the monthly expenses for the children—the son studies in Std X and daughter in Std II—as Rs 80,000 and Rs 50,000, respectively. The monthly school fee of the boy itself is Rs 50,000. Since both were earning, the court did not grant any interim maintenance to the wife, but asked Nitin to split the costs on the children’s education and other needs. He was asked to pay Rs 40,000 as interim maintenance to the son and Rs 25,000 to the daughter.
Nitin, an MD in a company run by his family, challenged the family court’s decision, but a single bench of the high court refused to give him any relief. He then filed an appeal before the division bench.
The single judge had questioned Nitin’s claim about his income. “It is common knowledge, and of which judicial notice is required to be taken, that the amount claimed by the husband as his earning is, in the present economic situation in this country, the usual salary of a clerk,” said the judge, who added that Nitin’s secretary earned Rs 13,000 per month. The court also referred to bank transactions worth lakhs of rupees. “A husband who has succeeded so much in life as to earn Rs 25,000 after begetting two children would be in no position to transfer such amounts from his account,” the court had remarked.
The divison bench judges said it was not necessary to express any opinion at this stage on Mehta’s monthly income as reflected in his income-tax returns while ordering him to pay the interim maintenance.
Nitin had claimed that merely because his father used to provide funds for the education and maintenance of his wife and children when they were living together, he could not be expected to pay a huge amount. He also claimed that his estranged wife earned a higher salary than him. Neetha’s lawyers, however, pointed out that both she and Nitin had jointly decided to send their children to a reputed school.