Intention of upkeep to keep away from poverty or vagrancy, not punishment of partner: HC

The Delhi High Court has stated that the amount of alimony once determined for the wife under Section 125(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be regarded as a blanket liability for the husband for all time to come.

The amount thus determined “is subject to fluctuations on both sides. It may be increased or decreased as circumstances change,” said a judge, Chandra Dhari Singh.

The court on Friday dismissed an application by a man’s wife to increase alimony from Rs 3,000 to Rs 35,000 a month, saying the circumstances she alleges existed at the time the original alimony order was pronounced in 2017; Therefore, the proof of such circumstances cannot form the basis for a change in the amount of maintenance pursuant to Section 127 (1) StPO.

“The intention behind granting temporary/permanent alimony is to ensure that the dependent spouse does not fall into poverty or vagrancy as a result of marital failure, and not as a punishment for the other spouse,” the bank said.

The husband’s financial standing, his actual income with reasonable expenses for his own maintenance and dependent family members whom he is legally obligated to support, and any liabilities would need to be taken into account to determine the appropriate amount of maintenance to be paid, he added.

“It is the law that a careful balance and fairness must be struck between all relevant factors. Consideration of determining alimony in marital disputes depends on the respondent’s financial situation and the standard of living to which the revisionist was accustomed in her marital residence,” the court said.

The woman here claimed she was evicted from her marital home within months of her marriage in 2008 for failing to meet a dowry requirement of Rs 10 lakh. She claimed her husband works as a grain mill manager and earns Rs 82,000 a month.

The husband, on the other hand, claimed the wife was separating at her own request and that the allegations of abuse and dowry demands were nothing but blackmail tactics. He claimed he is only a fifth standard pass and works as a taxi driver earning Rs 15,000 a month. The woman, on the other hand, was an academic and able to work and earn money herself. He also stated that he lives in a rented house and has to support his elderly parents.

In the present case, the court held, there was no documentary evidence of a change in circumstances justifying an increase in maintenance. The wife also failed to put on record material that the husband so well deserved to increase the amount.

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