April 7th, 2017
The Supreme Court of India held today that a woman who has deserted her husband is entitled to alimony after divorce if she is unable to sustain herself. However, she cannot claim maintenance from her spouse for the period when she was living separately before the grant of the divorce.
The Court dealt with Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which provides that a magisterial court can order for maintenance for wives during the pendency of divorce proceedings or those unable to sustain themselves after divorce.
However, sub-section (4) of section 125 lays down three circumstances when a woman is not entitled to maintenance: if she is living in adultery or has deserted her husband without sufficient reason or the couple is living separately with mutual consent.
The SC faced a dilemma when Manoj Kumar challenged the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s order to pay Rs 3000 per month to his wife, despite the divorce being granted on grounds of desertion.
The HC order was upheld by the apex court granting her alimony from the date of grant of decree of divorce. However, she cannot claim maintenance for the period she was living separately prior to the grant of the divorce.
As reported by India Today, the bench also added that the grounds or reasons for grant of divorce decree become immaterial when the issue of maintenance is raised after the legal separation and a divorcee is entitled to compensation under section 125 of the CrPC.
In India, more often than not, it’s the husband who has to pay alimony, even when the wife is earning. In rare cases, the wife is entitled to pay alimony if the husband is unable to earn or is disabled.
Points to ponder
- In cases where the wife earns decent money, should the husband be entitled to pay alimony?
- Should standard of living be taken into account while calculating alimony?
- How fair is alimony in a society that wishes to treat its women equal to men?