Sustaining high living standard no cause for maintenance: Court

NEW DELHI: Sustaining a high standard of living is no ground for seeking maintenance from an estranged spouse. This is what a Delhi court told a
woman who had sought amaintenance of Rs 1 lakh per month from her husband after the couple separated within a year of their marriage.
The woman, who has a permanent job, had sought the allowance “to maintain the same standard of life”. Dismissing her plea, the court said that her income cannot be termed insufficient for maintaining herself.
“The provision (of maintenance) cannot be resorted to by one of the litigating parties to enrich itself at the cost of the other…. The applicant was doing the same job during the golden days of their matrimonial life, hence it cannot be concluded that her status is reduced now,” additional district judge Rajender Kumar Shastri said.
In her petition, the woman said her husband earned Rs 78,396 per month while she, as a government school teacher, had a salary of Rs 19,000. Seeking maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu marriage act, the woman claimed that she was entitled to lead a life of similar standard and status as she was leading in the matrimonial house before separation. The woman also demanded Rs 55,000 as litigation expenses from her husband.
The court took a strong view on the demand for dividing the income of both parties equally, saying that though the provision obliged the court to do so, it doesn’t mean “that income of both parties is to be equalized by applying an electronic scale”.
ADJ Shastri said, “The object of the provision (Section 24 of Hindu marriage act) to provide maintenance to one of the litigating spouses…is to provide financial assistance to the indigent spouse to maintain herself during the pendency of the proceedings and also to have sufficient funds to carry on the litigation.”
The court directed the man to give his estranged wife Rs 20,000 as cost of litigation.

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