HC in Revision’s Jurisdiction Severely Limited – Kerala HC maintains order to award alimony of ₹31,68,000

The High Court of Kerala recently upheld the court’s order of Rs. 31,68,000/- alimony for the divorced wife and child.

The Bench of Justice Dr. Kauser Edappagath, noting that the additional sessions the judge should not have exceeded his jurisdiction in re-evaluating the evidence on file, relied on the Apex Court ruling in Shlok Bhardwaj v. Runika Bhardwaj and others [(2015) 2 SCC 721]which held that the scope of the High Court’s appellate jurisdiction does not extend to the re-evaluation of evidence.

“The Apex Court has consistently held that the High Court on appeal has a severely limited jurisdiction and cannot begin to re-evaluate evidence,” the court said.

In this case, the petitioner, a Muslim divorcee, had applied to the Magistrate for maintenance under Section 3 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986. The Magistrate granted Rs. 31,68,000/- as adequate maintenance and support for the wife and child. The said magistrate’s order was challenged by the defendant in the Additional Sessions Court. The hearing judge overturned the magistrate’s order and remanded the case for retrial to allow the defendant an opportunity to prove his actual income. This pre-trial detention was challenged in the High Court.

Attorney Rajasimhan appeared on behalf of the petitioner, Attorney TM Abdul Latheef appeared on behalf of the defendant.

The court, in deciding the amount of alimony, found that it was banal that, in determining the reasonable and equitable amount of alimony to be paid to a divorced woman, the court should have in mind the status of the parties and the ex-husband’s ability to pay alimony and also other accompanying circumstances.

The Court found that the amount granted by the Magistrate as alimony was determined on a rational basis and was a well-reasoned order i.e. it was determined after considering the evidence on file such as the salary certificate showing the defendant’s salary and proving to be Rs . 2,00,000/- per month.

The Court further found that the Appellant for Additional Sessions found without justification that Rs. €33,000 granted to the applicant as monthly expenses lacked any logical basis and the respondent’s monthly income had been determined without any supporting evidence. The court also found that the judge of the additional sessions was persuaded by a salary slip presented by the defendant in the session court, which shows that the defendant’s salary is only Rs. 70,000/-.

The court also found that the magistrate, after analyzing the evidence on file in its proper perspective, concluded that the petitioner and her child needed 33,000 to support themselves and that the defendant earned 2,00,000 per month, and said the court’s order for additional sessions is unlawful because the additional sessions judge exceeded his powers in re-evaluating the evidence on file.

“It is well established that the appellate jurisdiction u/s 397 of the Cr.PC should confer upon the higher criminal courts some sort of paternal or supervisory jurisdiction to correct errors of justice arising from errors of law, procedural irregularities or neglect of reasonable precautions or manifest harshness of treatment” , according to the court.

Accordingly, the High Court granted the application.

Title of the matter – Suhadath KK vs Shihab KB

Click here to read/download the judgment

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