No interim maintenance to professionally qualified spouse having means to sustain oneself

Delhi High Court: Hearing an appeal against the Family Court’s order declining to award interim maintenance to the  appellant wife as she is a qualified chartered accountant having sufficient means to maintain herself, the Court observed that Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act makes a provision for award of interim maintenance to a spouse who has no independent income sufficient to support her and fight the legal battle. The appellant wife being  well qualified and in profession for the past 13 years need not be granted interim maintenance.

The appellant is a CA while her husband is an Electrical Engineer running his own business. The husband had filed a petition for dissolution of marriage under Section 13(1)(i-a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. The wife under Section 24, sought interim maintenance for a sum of Rs 3 lakh per month for herself and the two children besides Rs 1.13 lakh towards litigation expenses.  While denying maintenance to the wife, the Family Court refused to believe her claim that she was getting only Rs 7,000 per month despite the fact that she had been practicing as a Chartered  Accountant since the year 2003. Her claim that she has no sufficient means to support herself and children was dealt with by the  Family Court noting that the parties had been indulging in jugglery of accounts making the things complex. The Family Court, however, awarded a sum of Rs 22,900 per month towards the maintenance of her two children.

Concurring with the finding of the Family Court, the Court observed that the High Court of Madras in Manokaran v. M. Devaki, 2003 SCC Online Mad 135,  while construing the provision of Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act and relying on its earlier decision in  Kumaresan v. Aswathi, 2002 SCC Online Mad 377 held that for grant of maintenance pendent lite, the party should not have sufficient independent income for her/his support. The Court also noted that in the  context of award of interim maintenance under Section 24 to a well-qualified spouse having the earning capacity but desirous of remaining idle has been deprecated in the decision in Mamta Jaiswal v. Rajesh Jaiswal, 2000 (3) MPLJ 100.

Dismissing the appeal, the Bench of Pratibha Rani and Pradeep Nandrajog, JJ observed that the appellant wife who is a qualified Chartered Accountant and in profession since the year 2003 need not be granted interim maintenance under Section 24 of the Act. [Rupali Gupta v. Rajat Gupta, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5009, decided on September 5, 2016]

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