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SC: Husband’s Sacred Duty to Support his Wife, Minor Children Financially Even by Physical Labour

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Supreme Court Law Insider

Khushi Bajpai

Published on: October 3, 2022 at 20:08 IST

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that, unless there are specific legal justifications, it is the husband’s sacred responsibility to support his wife and any minor children financially, including by working physically if he is physically capable of doing so.

According to the apex court, Section 125 of the CrPC was designed to lessen the pain, suffering, and financial hardship of a woman who is forced to leave the matrimonial home in order to make reasonable arrangements to enable her to support herself and the children.

The remarks were made by a bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Bela M Trivedi as they ordered an “errant” husband to pay his estranged wife maintenance of Rs 10,000 per month in addition to the Rs 6,000 maintenance allowance for the child.

The husband had questioned the chastity of his wife and had requested a DNA test of their son.

The bench granted the wife’s appeal against the decision of the high court, which affirmed the decision of the family court, rejecting her request for maintenance but approving financial support for her young son.

“The respondent (husband), being able-bodied, is required to support his wife and the minor child by working lawfully. The respondent had an adequate source of income and was physically capable, but had failed and neglected to provide for the appellants, the court stated, taking into account the testimony of the appellant-wife before the Family Court as well as the other material on file.”

The husband’s argument that he has no source of income because his business has been shut down and the wife has left the marital residence on her own was rejected by the court through the representation of his attorney, Dushyant Parashar.

It further stated that the Family Court had conducted the procedures in an utterly “pervert manner” in the current case, in addition to overlooking and disregarding the established legal position.

“The very fact that the respondent’s (husband’s) right to cross-examine the appellant-original applicant’s (wife’s) witnesses was terminated because he had neglected to appear before the Family Court despite the issuance of warrants showed that he had no regard for his own family or for the court,” the respondent said.

The Court ruled that there was no reason for the Family Court to doubt the wife’s testimony or to accept the unfounded oral arguments made by the attorney representing the husband because the claims she made in her testimony before the court had gone uncontested.

“The Family Court could not have granted the order trusting the oral statements of the counsel for the respondent in the absence of any evidence on record adduced by the respondent opposing the evidence adduced by the appellant,” it stated.

The bench ruled that the wife had made it very obvious how her husband had tormented and treated her cruelly, forcing her to leave the marital home with her children and that he had failed and neglected to provide for her and them.

The statement read, “She had also established by giving documentary proof that her father had occasionally made payments to the respondent to assist the respondent for his company.”

According to the judgment, the “errant respondent had also gone as far as doubting her chastity” by claiming that his young child was not indeed his biological son.

“There was no evidence to support such unfounded claims in the records.”

The Family Court also turned down his request for a DNA test.

“The Family Court granted the Support petition as far as the appellant no. 2 son was concerned, but had completely misdirected itself by not providing the maintenance to the appellant-wife,” it continued.

The bench referred to the Family Court’s ruling in the current instance, saying that it was regrettably upheld by the High Court by issuing the “quite cursory” impugned order.

“The High Court issued the contested order in a very careless manner, without providing any justification.”

“This Court judged it proper to give this order,” it added.

“This Court would have sent the matter back to the High Court for consideration anew, but considering that the matter has been pending before this court for the last four years and remanding it back would further delay the process.”

The pair wed on December 7, 1991, and they now have a boy who is still a minor and a daughter who is a major.

The wife had complained to the trial court that she had been forced to leave her marital home because of cruelty and physical and emotional torment.

The lady further claimed that her father had made dowry demands of Rs. 1 crore and that even her husband had questioned her virginity.

The wife allegedly left her marriage house with her children without cause, according to the husband, who also refuted claims of dowry demand and harassment.