Delhi High Court Warns Against Conflicting Orders in Maintenance Cases Across Different Legislations

LI Network

Published on: December 14, 2023 at 11:08 IST

The Delhi High Court has recently emphasized the issue of overlapping jurisdiction in granting interim maintenance under various enactments, leading to conflicting orders and what it terms as ‘forum shopping.’

A division bench, comprising Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, expressed concerns about the judicial impropriety arising from conflicting judgments in similar circumstances.

The bench highlighted that conflicting orders, without any change in circumstances, under different acts create a sense of forum shopping and judicial impropriety, which is not in line with the majesty of the courts.

The court stated that if the facts of a case remain identical, maintenance granted by one court must be adopted by another court. However, if there are additional factors or varying circumstances, especially under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which allows for various heads of monetary relief, the court may grant additional maintenance, but not without considering maintenance already granted in earlier proceedings by another competent court.

The bench further emphasized that once permanent alimony has been granted under acts such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, or Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, subsequent interim maintenance orders should not vary or modify the permanent alimony. Instead, parties should approach the same court that granted permanent alimony for any modification or variation based on subsequent circumstances.

The court made these observations while addressing a plea by a husband challenging a family court order directing him to pay monthly maintenance of Rs. 30,000 to his wife under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

In the case at hand, the court found that the wife, who had filed a case under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, was not entitled to interim maintenance, considering her education, capacity to earn, and intermittent independent income.

However, the court acknowledged her role in exclusively maintaining their 9-year-old child and modified the order, granting Rs. 20,000 as monthly maintenance for the child.

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