MP HC | Petitioner claiming to have no source of personal income is liable to maintain his wife if he has interest in agricultural lands of joint family

Madhya Pradesh High Court: S.K. Awasthi, J., dismissed the petition filed by the petitioner under Section 482 CrPC for quashing the maintenance order passed by the Additional Principal Judge.

The respondent filed an application under Section 125 CrPC to claim maintenance from the petitioner as she was forced to live in her parental house on account of cruelty by the husband. She had claimed that the petitioner was harassing her for the demand of dowry. She registered a criminal case against her husband and his family members for offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 294, 323 and 506 IPC. She also pleaded that she was unable to maintain herself as she does not have any source of income. The Family Court had allowed the application of the respondent and had directed the petitioner to pay interim maintenance taking into account the income of the petitioner’s father and brother.

The petitioner contended the respondent was living separately on her own will, as she did not want to live with his in-laws. He stated that this was the only reason why she left his house and lodged a complaint against him and his family members regarding the demand of dowry and harassment. He further claimed that he was still a student studying in B.Ed. and is dependent on the income of his parents, whereas the respondent was well educated and had obtained a Post Graduate Degree of M.Com., and had an independent source of income through tuition and was capable of maintaining herself. The respondent argued that the petitioner was living in a joint family and his father had agricultural land and was engaged in the business of seed and fertilizer. The petitioner was also involved in the said business and therefore had sufficient source of income to pay for the maintenance.

The Court held that a husband is duty-bound to make arrangement for maintenance of the wife. The respondent was legally wedded wife of the petitioner and she was residing separately from him and his family members as they used to harass her for the demand of dowry. The petitioner did not deny the criminal cases pending against him. Therefore, prima facie the respondent was living separately with a reasonable cause.

Therefore the respondent was duty-bound to make arrangement for the maintenance of his wife. He has not denied the fact that he lived in a joint family with his father and brother and was also involved in the family business of seed and fertilizer, which indicated that he had sufficient source of income.[Dhruv v. Sapna, 2019 SCC OnLine MP 2079, decided on 20-08-2019]

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