Delhi High Court in a case relating to maintenance in a divorce case said on Monday that maintenance awarded to an estranged wife is for her survival and should not be seen as a “bounty”, and it has to be given from the date of her application. The case involved a plea filed by a husband wanting to move the date of payment of maintenance from application date to the date of the order by the trial court.

The bench headed by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva dismissed the man’s petition challenging a trial court’s May 2017 order directing him to pay interim maintenance of Rs 40,000 to his estranged wife from the date of filing of the application—March 2014.

The plea questioned the trial court’s judgment and stated that the maintenance should not have been related to the date of the application but to the date of the order by the trial court. However, the HC ordered that the man has not challenged the amount of the maintenance but the date from which it should be given to the estranged wife.

“The object of the grant of maintenance is to afford a subsistence allowance to the wife who is not able to maintain herself…the award normally should be from the date of the application. For the court to award maintenance from the date of the order there have to be compelling circumstances.

Maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty. It is awarded to her so that she can survive. The fact that time is spent between the date of the application and a final adjudication and an award in favor of the wife, does not mean that she had enough funds to maintain herself,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said, NH reported.

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The HC further said that when the trial court orders the amount fixed to be provided to the estranged wife in the form of maintenance, it relates back to the date when the wife filed her application. “When the assessment relates back to the date of the application then there has to be compelling circumstances for the trial court to restrict the award of maintenance to a period post the date of the order,” it said.

The woman in 2017 had filed an application to the trial court under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act for which the lower court had awarded her Rs 40,000 maintenance to be received from her estranged husband.

The object of the grant of maintenance is to afford a subsistence allowance to the wife who is not able to maintain herself…the award normally should be from the date of the application. For the court to award maintenance from the date of the order there have to be compelling circumstances.

The high court added that the man would be entitled to an adjustment of the amount that he has already paid in terms of the order passed in the application under Section 125 (order for maintenance of wives, children, and parents) Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the interim orders passed by this court.

Earlier, the trial court had awarded interim maintenance of Rs 15,000 to the woman on her application under Right To Maintenance Act of CrPC. The man was paying her the amount but then she withdrew the application.

The counsel for the man had contended before the high court that the trial court wrongly related the maintenance to the date of the application and not restricting it to the date of order as the woman was already receiving maintenance of Rs 15,000.

Picture credit: NDTV

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