Amount spent by man to support divorced sister must be taken into account while deciding maintenance to wife: Delhi High Court

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said that in Indian culture, a brother and a sister has a deep sense of care towards one another.

The Delhi High Court recently observed that a brother cannot be a mute spectator to his divorced sister's miseries especially when she is in need of financial help [Sarita Bakshi vs. State & Anr].

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said that in Indian culture, a brother and a sister has a deep sense of care towards one another.

"The affection shared by family members culminates into bonds and family members are the strongest support system of each other. In particular, the relationship between a brother and a sister has a deep sense of care towards one another. Festivals, norms and traditions in India are an affirmation and recognition of care, affection and responsibility of siblings towards each other," the Court stated.

It, therefore, held that amount spent by a man to support his divorced sister must be kept in mind while granting maintenance to his wife.

"I am of the view that though the divorced sister can legally and morally claim maintenance from her husband, the respondent, at the same time, must be spending and is expected to spend some amount for his sister on special occasions and in case of any emergent need. Therefore, though while apportioning the income of the respondent (brother), one portion of income of the respondent cannot be apportioned to the sister, some amount as expenditure on yearly basis has to be kept aside for the divorced sister as moral obligation of the respondent," the Court said.

Justice Sharma was dealing with a revision petition by a wife challenging the order of the family court which directed her husband (Respondent-2) to pay a maintenance of ₹6,000 to her.

It was stated that the husband had remarried and had a child as well. His 79-year-old father and a divorced sister also depended on him even though the sister was receiving some maintenance from her former husband.

The court has said that a husband also has to maintain his old father as "he is because of him".

After noting the fact that the man had remarried and had a child as well, Justice Sharma said that a balance needs to be struck between maintaining ex-wife, son and other dependents.

"It is the duty of the son/daughter to take care of his/her parents during the golden days of their life. The father of Respondent no. 2 is a non-earning member of the family who should enjoy his old age seeing his family happy. Thus, to make sure that the son is able to fulfil the wishes and wants of the father during his golden years, it becomes vital to consider some amount as expenditure for looking after and well-being of his father while determining the amount of maintenance," the Court said.

Finally, the Court observed that relationships cannot be caged in a mathematical formula alone in every case and, each case has to be decided in view of its special and peculiar circumstances which may warrant the indulgence of the Court.

"No doubt in cases involving grant of maintenance calculation has to be made in terms of financial capacity, the same needs to be done keeping in mind all family circumstances," the Court noted.

On the issue of the dependency, the Court said that it can only be enhanced from a date when a person’s salary has increased and the definition has to be read in light of the Indian culture.

The court finally concluded that even if five shares are apportioned from the man's salary the amount in favour of petitioner wife would come to ₹8,000.

However, considering the circumstances regarding the dependence of aged father of the respondent on respondent and other circumstances, approximately ₹7,500 will come to share of all the dependents, the court held.

"The maintenance cannot be enhanced from the date of the application as the present petition is under Section 127 Cr.P.C. wherein, the maintenance amount has to be decided on the basis of the date on which the salary of the husband had changed," the Court held.

Advocates GP Thareja and Rahul Singh appeared for the petitioner-wife. Advocate Saurabh Kansal appeared for the respondent-husband.

[Read Judgment]

Sarita Bakshi vs. State & Anr..pdf
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