Husband never too old to pay maintenance, rules HC
Saurabh MalikTribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that a husband can never be too old to pay maintenance to his estranged wife. He cannot even take the plea that he is not in a position to earn, and the pension is too meagre, to pay maintenance.That wife was putting up separately with earning son, too, was not the ground to deny maintenance.
The ruling by Justice Daya Chaudhary came in a case where Ambala Family Court awarded Rs 8,000 monthly interim maintenance to a woman.
The counsel for a petitioner-husband claimed the respondent-wife did not have the right to claim maintenance, as the petitioner was neither a man of means nor an able-bodied person capable of earning through manual labour at the age of 65. His counsel also argued that the respondent-wife was residing with her son and was not in need of maintenance.
Taking up the matter, Justice Chaudhary asserted: “It is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife.” She further said that simply saying that the petitioner was not in a position to earn and was getting meagre amount of pension was not sufficient to deny maintenance. Moreover, the petitioner could not be dubbed an old person, as his health was good.
Referring to the provisions of Section 125 CrPC, Justice Chaudhary said the petitioner’s age was irrelevant. Besides, the wife was aged and not earning. Nothing was brought on record to show that she was possessing sufficient means for livelihood. Justice Chaudhary added the petitioner had admitted that his son was not working and had been disinherited from his movable and immovable property. Even otherwise, the ground that the son was employed and earning was not sufficient to neglect maintenance to respondent-wife. “The petitioner-husband was not only getting old-age pension from the Haryana Government, but was also having income from movable and immovable property. When the respondent-wife was turned out of her matrimonial home, her son came to her rescue….”
Dismissing the petition, Justice Chaudhary concluded it was proved on record that the respondent-wife left the matrimonial home under compelling circumstances; the relationship between the two was not cordial; and they could not live together, indicating that the petitioner-husband ousted the wife. “It cannot be said that the respondent-wife left the matrimonial home wilfully and without any sufficient reason. The petitioner-husband had not shown willingness to maintain wife. Efforts were also not made to rehabilitate her. The amount of maintenance awarded to the respondent-wife could not be interfered with only on the ground that their son was getting salary and maintaining mother.”