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The Delhi High Court has held that while calculating the extent of maintenance payable 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.
The judgment was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva in a plea assailing a trial court order which reduced the quantum of maintenance awarded to the petitioner-wife from 30% of the gross income of the respondent-husband to 15%.
The parties were married in May 2006 and separated in October 2006.
Pursuant to an application under Section 125 of 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 its judgment in the case and held that the wife was entitled to 15% of the gross salary of the husband.
The husband was employed as an Inspector in CISF and as per the directions of the trial court, the employer had to make the calculations and transmit the maintenance amount directly to the account of the wife.
Before the High Court, the wife submitted that no rationale was given by the trial court for reducing the maintenance amount from 30% to 15%.
The husband, on the other hand, argued that the trial court’s calculation was justified on the ground that the petitioner had income from other sources as well, 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 stated that when there are no other dependent members of the husband apart from the wife, he would be entitled to retain two parts of his gross income 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%.
Relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Reema Salkan v. Sumer Singh Salkan (2018) and Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena (2015), the Court observed that sustenance did not necessarily mean to lead the life of an animal. It further said that the wife was 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, since the husband had not questioned the wife’s right to receive maintenance, the only issue was with regard to the quantum of maintenance, the Court stated.
In view of the absence of any reason for the reduction, the Court thus held that the order awarding maintenance at 15% of the gross salary after deduction of minimum statutory legal deductions was not sustainable.
It thus modified the order to the extent that the wife was entitled to 30% of the gross income of the husband after the minimum statutory deductions.
As per the Court’s order, the Director General, CISF is required deduct 30% of the gross income of the husband, after making minimum statutory deductions, and pay the same directly to the wife towards the future monthly maintenance amount.
The Court further 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.
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.
The petitioner wife was represented by Advocate Akshai Malik.
The respondent husband was represented by Advocates CS Bhandari and Devagya Kainth.
Read the judgment: