Maintenance and alimony ‘by default’ are extremely regressive terms in 2020 for any woman, however, since it is lifelong free moolah paid by ex-husband, none of the feminists outrage against putting a price tag on a woman’s dignity.
On other hand, husbands who have been legally threatened to pay up, have no choice – some keep mum and buy their happiness if they can afford, some go through hell to pay up while many have also chosen to end their trauma by ending lives.
However, we came across two peculiar cases of maintenance/alimony in Punjab, where husbands came to court with ‘coins’ since they had to pay fully-abled wives as per the law.
In July 2018 the Chandigarh court of Additional District and Sessions Judge RK Sharma witnessed some unusual drama when a man paid Rs 24,600 alimony to his ex-wife in Re 1 and Rs 2 coins. The court was eventually adjourned as the entire amount could not be counted. The man, an advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court handed a bag full of coins to his ex-wife as the monthly maintenance amount. The woman furiously said,
This is a new way to torture and harass me now. It is a mockery of law.
The couple got married in February 2015 and the marriage could not last more than three months and in May, husband filed a case for judicial separation. Later, he withdrew the application for separation and in October 2015, he filed a divorce case. This is when, wife moved an application seeking maintenance from her husband.
The lower Court directed the husband to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 25,000 to his wife every month. When the man skipped one month’s maintenance, the wife moved the high court in 2018 and was ordered by the court to pay Rs 50,000 due to his inability to pay for the previous two months.
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The woman refused to believe that he did not have money and added that he has a lot of high-profile clients as he is a practising advocate, as well as a lot of properties to his name. The wife added that she, on the other hand, is in dire need of money. She said,
What will I do with this money? No bank will accept this.
The husband said,
I had been paying alimony to my wife previously also. But today, since I did not have currency notes, I brought the money in whichever form I could. I borrowed the coins from a religious institution where I performed seva.
Apart from the coins, the husband paid the remaining Rs 400 in Rs 100 notes.
The husband also justified his move by saying that it is not written anywhere that he has to pay in denomination of Rs 100 or Rs 500 or Rs 2,000 notes. He also got two of his juniors to count the money.
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In another case similar to this, in November 2018, a husband was told to pay Rs 7,500 maintenance to his wife every month. He came to the court to pay the maintenance for two months amounting to Rs 15,000. When the Judge saw the large number of coins, he reprimanded the man for it.
The man told the court that he got the money from the bank in this form. The wife, however, accepted the money. The couple had entered wedlock in January 2003. In 2016, the wife filed a case of domestic violence against the man.
She stated that at the time of the marriage, her husband had claimed that he had a lot of property. However, after they got married, she realised that the claims were false. After 13-years of marriage, woman alleged that she was thrashed after the man took alcohol and he demanded dowry as well.
What Coinage Act Says
According to Section 6 of the Coinage Act, 2011 (Central), if an amount exceeding Rs 1,000 is paid in the form of coins, it is not legal tender. Thus, the other party, in second case the wife, could have refused to accept the same. The Judge had also suggested the same, but the wife willingly took the money offered in coins.
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Supreme Court Allows Divorced Well-Qualified Wife To Claim Maintenance At Any Point In Life, Even After Divorce
Surely, bringing coins to pay maintenance may not be practical, however, the symbolism of these acts do showcase how men have to pay women irrespective of whose fault it is in marriage. Even in the first case, where the marriage did not last beyond three months, legally man was bound to pay a sum of Rs 25,000 per month until three years, which also can extend indefinitely until the woman settles for one time permanent alimony.
Under no circumstances, a fully-abled woman, also many a times well educated, is never asked to become self dependent at any point in time. Separation/divorce in India thus becomes a lifelong tax free income plan, where women have no reason to become independent or complain.
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