The Bombay High Court recently declined to interfere with a lower Court's orders (Nanded Court, Maharashtra), directing a school teacher to pay interim maintenance to her ex-husband, who claimed to have no sources of income.
The Bombay High Court in doing so upheld the orders of the Lower Court. The judgement was given by the Bench of Justice Bharati Dangre. The provision of maintenance / permanent alimony being a beneficial provision for the indigent spouse, the said section can be invoked by either of the spouse, said the Bombay High Court.
Justice Dangre while adjudicating the instant case held, “The provision of maintenance / permanent alimony being a beneficial provision for the indigent spouse, the said section can be invoked by either of the spouse, where a decree of any kind governed by Sections 9 to 13 has been passed and marriage tie is broken, disrupted or adversely affected by such decree of the court,".
The husband and wife, in the instant case, got married in the year 1992. The wife had eventually filed for divorce which was approved by Nanded Court in the year 2015. The husband then filed a petition for permanent alimony wherein he sought Rs 15,000 per month from his wife. The man apparently claimed the lack of any financial assistance and said that his wife was qualified with a master’s degree along with a degree in B.Ed. He further highlighted that she was employed in a school. The woman however disputed the fact that her husband was dependent on her, stating that he managed a grocery store and also made money by leasing out his auto-rickshaw.
In 2017, the lower court had ordered the woman to pay ₹3,000 per month during the course of litigation to her husband i.e. from the date of filing till the petition was dismissed. Later on in 2019, upon refusing to pay to her husband, an order was passed by the Court, directing the school's headmaster, where the woman worked, to deduct ₹5,000 from her monthly pay and deliver the amount to court as arrears.
The woman, however, challenged both these orders in the High Court, via a writ petition. She contented in her arguments that proceedings for permanent alimony and maintenance under Section 25 of the Act were not maintainable per se as marriage between her and her ex-husband had already been dissolved. She placed stress on the wording used in the Section - “husband or the wife” to argue that on dissolution of marriage, an application for maintenance cannot be entertained. The wife said that such directions passed against her did not upheld justice in any kind.
The Counsel for the husband submitted that the provision contained in Section 25 does not depend upon the outcome of the relationship subsequent to divorce, since the Section uses the word “at any time subsequent thereto” and therefore, the embargo that the applicant as the husband, after dissolution of marriage cannot be denied, the benefit flowing from Section 25. The High Court held the husband's plea for interim maintenance under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 was correctly entertained by the lower court and the husband was found to be entitled to interim maintenance while the procedures under Section 25 (Permanent alimony and maintenance) were ongoing.
"The words applied in Section 25 of the Act of 1955 permit any court exercising jurisdiction under this Act, i.e. under Sections 9 to 13, at the time of passing any decree or at any time subsequent thereto, on an application made to it, by either of the spouse pay to the applicant for her/his maintenance, either gross sum or monthly or periodical sums for not exceeding the life of the applicant, having regard to the income and the other property, etc.," the Court held. The term used 'at any time subsequent thereto' cannot be made redundant, by giving constricted meaning to the words 'wife or husband, applied in Section 25, the Court made it clear.
"It is open for the court to decide the application filed by the husband under Section 25 of the 1955 Act, seeking monthly maintenance, by way of final proceedings, pending which, the application for interim maintenance filed under Section 24 of the Act of 1955, has been rightly entertained by the learned Judge and the husband has been held entitled to interim maintenance while the proceedings under Section 25 are pending," she noted.
The Hon’ble Judge opined there was no need of intervention in both the impugned orders therefore dismissed the writ petition filed by the wife.
Advocate SS Thombre appeared for the petitioner while the respondent was represented by advocate Rajesh Mewana.
Case Title : Bhagyashri Jaiswal vs Jagdish Sajjanlal Jaiswal & Anr.