Cruelty and isolated acts of adultery by a wife do not disentitle her from receiving maintenance from her husband, the Delhi High Court has said.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, who was dealing with a challenge to a trial court directing the husband to pay monthly maintenance to the wife, stated that only continuous and repeated acts of adultery by the wife would attract the legal exception to the grant of payment of an allowance by the husband.
The trial court, in its order passed under section 125 CrPC, had directed that husband pay the wife Rs 15,000 per month with effect from August 2020.
In his challenge to the trial court order, the husband argued that the direction for payment of maintenance cannot be sustained on several grounds including cruelty, adultery, and desertion by the wife.
The high court rejected the grounds raised by the husband and observed that although the law of maintenance aims to ensure that the wife, children, and parents of an able and capable man are not left to become destitute, “recent practice” was to “abuse the process of law and escape the liability that is imposed upon the husband on contentions that hold no ground.”
The high court said that “the grounds of cruelty and harassment do not stand ground” for non-payment of maintenance and noted that even in cases where a divorce is granted on the ground of cruelty, courts have awarded alimony to the wife.
“Even in cases where divorce is granted on the ground of cruelty, courts have awarded permanent alimony to the wife and there is no bar of cruelty in the right of the wife to claim maintenance,” the court said in its recent order.
“The law emanating from various precedents of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and various High Courts establishes the position of payment of maintenance holding that the ground of cruelty does not disentitle the wife of her right to maintenance,” it said.
Concerning the ground of adultery, the court opined that the husband did not establish even a prima facie case against the wife and the law required the wife to be living in adultery to bar her from receiving maintenance under section 125 Cr.P.C.
“The husband has to establish with definite evidence that the wife has been living in adultery and one or occasional acts of adultery committed in isolation would not amount to ‘living in adultery,” it said.
“The law mandates that in order to extract the provision under Section 125(4) of the Cr.P.C. the husband has to establish with definite evidence that the wife has been living in adultery, and one or occasion acts of adultery committed in isolation would not amount to ‘living in in Adultery’,” the court added.
The ground of desertion was also rejected by the court and the husband’s challenge to the trial court order was dismissed.
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