The Delhi High Court on May 29, 2019, in the case of Babita Bisht v. Dharmender Singh Bisht, has held that for payment of maintenance to a wife, the husband’s gross income is to be apportioned with two parts for the husband and one part for the wife if there is no other dependent member.
A Single Judge Bench of JusticeSanjeev Sachdeva was hearing a petition filed by the wife against the order of the Trial Court which reduced the quantum of maintenance awarded to the petitioner-wife from 30% of the gross income of the respondent-husband to 15%.
In this case, the parties were married in May 2006 and separated in October 2006.
Pursuant to an application under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, an order for grant of interim maintenance was passed in February 2008. The order awarded 30% of the gross income of the husband’s salary for maintenance of the petitioner.
After parties led their evidence, the Trial Court passed the impugned judgment holding that the wife was entitled to 15% of the gross salary of the husband who was employed as an Inspector in CISF.
Learned counsel, appearing for the petitioner-wife submitted before the court that no rational or reasoning was given by the Trial Court for reducing the maintenance amount from 30% to 15 %.
On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondent-husband argued that payment of 30% of the gross income is on the higher side and that the petitioner has income from other sources, which was reflected in her bank account.
Based on the submissions made by the wife, the court recorded that her father was putting money into her bank account for daily expenses of the family and the same was reflected in her bank account.
After hearing the parties, the court noted that there is no other dependent member of the respondent apart from the petitioner. In case the formula of apportionment is applied, the respondent would be entitled to retain two parts of his income after making the mandatory statutory deductions and one part of the same would be payable to the wife.
The court thus recorded that while there was a clear rationale behind awarding interim maintenance at 30% of the gross income of the husband, the Trial Court was completely silent with regard to its reduction to 15%.
Reliance was placed on two Supreme Court judgments in Reema Salkan v. Sumer Singh Salkan (2018) and Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena (2015), to observe that sustenance did not necessarily mean to lead the life of an animal. The wife is entitled in law to lead a life in the similar manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband and that the husband could not deprive her of the benefit of living with dignity.
In the present case, the right to receive maintenance of the petitioner was not in question and the only issue was with regard to the quantum.
In view of the absence of any reason for the reduction, the court said that “the impugned order to the extent that it awards maintenance at 15% of the gross salary after deduction of minimum statutory legal deductions is not sustainable. The order is, accordingly, modified to the extent that petitioner is held entitled to 30% of the gross income of the respondent after the minimum statutory deductions.”
Accordingly, the court directed the Director General CISF to deduct 30% of the gross income of the respondent, after making minimum statutory deductions, and pay the same directly to the petitioner towards the future monthly maintenance amount.
Further, the court clarified that this direction would remain effective until the lifetime of the wife or till she gets remarried, whichever is earlier. On superannuation or Voluntary Retirement of the husband, the computation of the monthly maintenance shall be made in a similar 2:1 fashion.
Allowing the petition, the court also awarded an additional 15% of the gross income of the husband to the wife to clear the arrears from the date of the trial court’s judgment.