High Court of Punjab and Haryana: While deciding upon the challenge to the orders of the Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Hansi and the Addl. Sessions Judge, Hisar passed in relation to a maintenance petition under Section 12 of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the Bench comprising of Anita Chaudhry, J. held that the acquittal of the petitioner and his family members in dowry demand case is no ground to deny maintenance to the wife and the child.
In the present case the wife had filed a petition under Section 12 of the 2005 Act for maintenance alleging therein that she and her son were unable to maintain themselves after the husband had levelled charges of adultery against her and denied the paternity of the son born out of wedlock, thus claiming compensation, a protection order, residency order and maintenance from the husband. The husband resisted the claim on the ground that the wife had willfully deserted him and that she was a lady of easy virtue and even denied the paternity of the son. He denied the responsibility of the wife and the child. It was claimed that the wife was working in Anganwari and getting Rs. 3000 as salary, besides getting Rs. 750 as pension from the Government. Thereby the husband challenged the legality and validity of the orders passed by the Judicial Magistrate and the Addl. Sessions Judge who allowed the wife’s petition for maintenance.
The Court while examining the contentions of the parties held that the petitioner while averting the chastity of the respondent and the paternity of the son, had produced no material evidence to substitute his plea. The Court pointed out that with such baseless and unproved allegation it was impossible for the respondent to live with the petitioner however the respondent in a bid to restore her married life withdrew the maintenance petition as well as criminal complaint in 2004 but was turned away again from her matrimonial home and was hence living separately since then. The Court further observed that it is not possible for the respondent to cohabit with petitioner in such terrible and unnerving predicaments hence the directions of the learned Magistrate providing for maintenance and residential accommodation to the respondent are just and proper.
While deciding in favor of the respondent and dismissing the appeal the Court held that acquittal of the petitioner and his family members in dowry demand case is no ground to deny maintenance to the wife and the child. The petitioner cannot be absolved of his liability to maintain the wife and the child on this score. The case in hand is required to be decided on the preponderance of probabilities and no strict standard of proof is required to be proved.
Ruling upon the issue of quantum of maintenance payable under Section 12 of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the Court held that since the son has attained majority, he is not legally entitled to claim any maintenance hence the amount of maintenance granted in the order of the Judicial Magistrate and the Sessions Judge has to be adjusted accordingly after deducting half- share of the child in the maintenance amount. [Narender v. Sunita, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 7608, decided on September 20, 2016]