The Supreme Court (SC) of India in April 2017 set a benchmark for maintenance to be paid by a husband to his estranged wife. The Court said that twenty-five percent of his net salary should be paid for maintenance by a husband to his estranged wife. It said that this twenty-five percent of his net salary might constitute a just and proper amount as alimony.
According to media reports, a bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice MM Santanagoudar directed a resident of West Bengal to set aside twenty-five percent as maintenance for his former wife and their son. The man who earns Rs 95527 a month was directed to set aside Rs 20000 for the wife. The court also turned down the man's plea that the amount was excessive.
The court said the amount of maintenance or permanent alimony must be sufficient to ensure that a woman lived with dignity after separating from her husband.
About the plea
In his plea to the Supreme Court, a man from West Bengal challenged an order of the Calcutta High Court in which he was directed to pay Rs 23000 per month to his former wife.
The Supreme Court’s take on the plea
The apex court in its direction said that there was nothing wrong in the order of the high court; however, it reduced the sum by Rs 3000 on the ground that the man had remarried and was responsible for his new family.
Reports suggest that the former couple has been fighting a legal battle over maintenance since 2003, the year when the district court fixed the amount at Rs 4500. Later the high court enhanced the amount to Rs 16000 per month and Rs 23000 per month in 2015 and 2016. The sum was increased as the former husband’s salary went up to Rs 95527 from Rs 63842 per month.
Earlier in its 2016 judgement, the Supreme Court pronounced that "A Hindu woman's right to maintenance is a personal obligation so far as the husband is concerned, and it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property. It is well settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties then his wife is entitled to a right to be maintained out of such properties".
It seems that the decision of the apex court has an inclination towards protecting the claims of women in matrimonial disputes that affects the financial status of the couple.
When: April 2017