In a unique and rare case, the Bombay High Court bench in Aurangabad has upheld a couple of orders by a lower court in Nanded that directed a woman school teacher to pay an interim monthly maintenance of Rs 3,000 to her estranged husband and asked the headmaster of her school to deduct Rs 5,000 from her salary every month and deposit the same with the court towards unpaid maintenance since August 2017.
The woman contested that after marriage in April 1992, she separated from her husband and secured a decree of divorce in January 2015. The order for alimony was passed much after that and the same cannot be sustained, she contended.
The woman teacher had approached the HC challenging two orders passed by second joint civil judge, senior division, Nanded in August 2017 passing an interim order asked for payment of monthly alimony of Rs 3,000 and in December 2019, the headmaster of the school, where the woman is serving was asked to deduct Rs 5,000 from her monthly salary and send it to the court as she had not paid the interim maintenance since the August 2017 order.
Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench)
While rejecting the petition filed by the woman teacher against the lower court’s order, Justice Bharati Dangre of the HC cited Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act 1955 as well Supreme Court rulings given from time to time. Dangre remarked that Section 25 of the Act provides that a court can order the respondent to pay maintenance and support such gross sum or monthly or periodically to the applicant.
Scope of Section 25
On hearing contentions from both the sides, justice Dangre observed,
The scope of Section 25 of the Act cannot be constricted by not making it applicable to a decree of divorce being passed between the husband and wife.
While citing section 24 and 25 of the act, Justice Dangre ruled,
A conjoint reading of both the provisions, would reveal that both the sections in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 are enabling provisions and confer a right on the indigent spouse to claim maintenance either pendente lite i.e. depending on the outcome of the litigation) or in the nature of permanent alimony and maintenance.
The bench added,
Since Section 25 has to be looked upon as a provision for destitute wife/husband, the provisions will have to be construed widely so as to salvage the remedial entailments.
The HC further observed,
It is open for the court to decide the application filed by the husband under Section 25 of the 1955 Act, seeking monthly maintenance, by way of final proceedings, pending which, the application for interim maintenance filed under Section 24 of the Act of 1955, has been rightly entertained by the judge and the husband has been held entitled to interim maintenance while the proceedings under Section 25 are pending.
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