No everlasting alimony for adulterous spouse, Punjab and Haryana HC guidelines

New Delhi: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has refused to grant permanent alimony to a woman divorced from her husband for “adultery”.

The order was issued on September 27 by a panel of judges, consisting of Justices Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta, on an appeal by the woman who challenged the divorce in 2008 from the Family Court in Ambala, Haryana.

§ 125 StPO provides for maintenance for the wife, children or parents. However, a subsection states that “no wife shall be entitled to an allowance from her husband under this section if she is in adultery or if she refuses unreasonably to live with her husband, or if they are living apart by mutual agreement.”

The High Court heard the wife’s appeal against a September 2008 judgment of the Ambala Family Court which had granted her husband’s application for divorce under Sections 13(1)(i) and 13(1)(ib). of the Hindu Marriage Law, 1955.

Section 13(1)(i) of the Act permits divorce on the basis that the husband or wife has voluntarily had sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse. Section 13(1)(ib) permits a divorce when a husband or wife has left their spouse for an uninterrupted period of at least two years.

The couple married in May 1989 in the city of Ambala. According to the ruling, however, the husband claimed that the wife’s behavior was “extremely rude and aggressive” from the beginning of their marriage. The ruling also considered the husband’s allegations that “she abused, insulted and humiliated him and his family members” and that his wife had developed “intimacy” with her neighbor. However, the woman had denied allegations of cruelty and adultery.

The family court awarded the husband a divorce on the grounds of cruelty and adultery. The Supreme Court upheld the order and denied the woman permanent alimony.

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The mediation had failed

When the woman appealed to challenge the divorce in 2009, the High Court referred the matter to arbitration in May of that year. The couple could not reach an agreement. In April 2018, the court found that the 2009 mediation had failed. However, the appeal did not go to court because of an “accidental error by the staff.”

The Supreme Court held that the woman could not produce any evidence to reverse the family court’s findings.

“The applicant’s experienced lawyer was unable to adduce any evidence that would reverse the finding of extramarital affairs between the applicant’s wife and Defendant No. 2. The investigation report (Ex. P1) coupled with the evidence of [witnesses] consistently proved that the applicant’s wife was in adultery,” said the order of the two-judge bench.

The judges then referred to various judgments that the woman had relied on to show that courts had granted maintenance to the wife despite allegations of adultery. However, she felt these verdicts would not help her case.

For example, in one of the cases, while the husband had brought adultery allegations against the wife, the bank said the Delhi High Court had granted alimony, stating that the husband could not prove the adultery allegations and that the divorce was granted on the basis of the cruelty and not of adultery.

Noting the differences between such cases, the Punjab and Haryana Superior Court Chamber ruled that “In view of the observations made above, the applicant is not entitled to enduring maintenance. appeal is dismissed.”

(Edited by VS Chandrasekar)

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