An HC judge, hearing a woman’s plea against her ex-husband to increase her monthly interim maintenance, refused to increase the amount and instead said that she is not supposed to sit idle at home and be a parasite on the husband’s earnings. The judge’s choice of words has been widely criticised by women.

The woman’s plea was that her monthly maintenance amount should be increased from Rs 5,500 to Rs 25,000 per month. Additional sessions judge RK Tripathi declined her plea after noting the fact that she was more qualified than her estranged husband. The woman had divorced her husband for domestic violence.

“The appellant herself is a well-educated lady having a post graduation degree: MA, B.Ed and LLB, and is reported to be more qualified than the respondent (husband). She can earn herself. She is not supposed to sit idle at home and be a parasite on the earnings of the respondent,” the judge said, as reported by HT.

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Earlier in 2008, the magisterial court had allowed the woman Rs 5,000 as maintenance amount from her husband. After that, she appealed again in 2015 and she won 10% increase in the maintenance amount. This time, she was appealing against the orders to raise the amount to Rs 25,000.

HC concurred with the decision made by magisterial court in 2015 and said that it is aware of the practical realities of society. HC also maintained that the Magistrate’s decision of raising the maintenance amount was done at a justifiable rate.

The judge also came up with the conclusion that the woman had failed to give concrete reason about why her maintenance amount must be increased.

“I do agree that she should get a job herself. But calling her a parasite?! Judges need to be careful about the way they approach such cases and the words they use to address the women,” said Divya Mody, a social media consultant

Following the HC judgment, a few working women told SheThePeople.TV their stand. A 24-year-old woman working as content writer in Delhi, Deepika Sarin, said, “It is alright that they wanted to increase the maintenance at a reasonable rate. However, the argument and language the judge used was unacceptable. Sitting at home or not is not a factor in the case.”

Another woman working in the IT sector felt that it is abusive to call a divorced woman a parasite. Srabasti Dey said, “No woman willingly drags a private matter of a domestic violence case into a courtroom until she is forced to. She must have gone through terrible days and nights. The least our legislative committee could do is to show her respect instead of just being abusive. While the court’s restriction on enhancement makes sense, their words should have been carefully chosen. Whether a woman wants to work or remains a homemaker, that’s her choice. An issue like this should be sensitively handled.”

Divya Mody, a social media consultant, agrees with the court’s decision that the woman should get a job for herself. She feels, “I don’t know their standard of living or their daily expenditure — so can’t comment if Rs 5,000 is enough. However, I do agree that she should get a job herself. But calling her a parasite?! Judges need to be careful about the way they approach such cases and the words they use to address the women.”

Charvi Kathuria echoes Divya’s comment when she says, “I feel the woman is educated enough to fend for herself. The case does involve domestic violence but that doesn’t give the wife the liberty to take advantage of her situation for the rest of her life. She must take charge of her life as soon as possible.”

This is what modern working women feel about the HC’s decision. While it is true that women should be encouraged to go outside and work, the judge should be more judicious in his comments.

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