Whether you are married for a day, a year or several years, all wives are eligible for permanent lifelong maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, even without a divorce.
The Gauhati High Court in its judgement dated May 17, 2022 held that wife’s right to receive maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is a statutory right and the husband cannot escape from his liability by signing an agreement to the contrary.
At the outset, single judge Justice Rumi Kumari Phukan held that any agreement outside the purview of the law is against public policy and would be void. She noted,
The statutory right of a wife of a maintenance cannot be bartered, done away with or negatived by the husband by setting up an agreement to the contrary. It has also been held that an agreement by which the wife waived her right to claim maintenance would be a void agreement as against public policy.
The High Court emphasised,
The statutory liability under Section 125 is, therefore, distinct from the liability under any other law. Therefore, giving effect to an agreement, which overrides this provision of law, that is, Section 125 of CrPC would tantamount to not only giving recognition to something, which is opposed to public policy, but would also amount to negation of it.
Such an agreement in addition to it being against public policy would also be against the clear intendment of this provision, the Court further said.
Adultery Argument Rejected Trial Court
The trial court rejected the argument of the husband regarding adultery stating that that the wife had such feelings for another person prior to her marriage and not after marriage with the husband and thus, it couldn’t be said that she was leading an adulterous life.
Husband Failed To Maintain Legally Married Wife
The High Court noted that the wife was living at her parental house since January 2017 and that the husband hasn’t provided any maintenance to her since then despite the fact that she was pursuing her education. The Court said,
Peculiarly, in his cryptic written objection, he has not narrated any detail as to under what circumstances, she began to reside in the parental house and as to why the FIR was also filed against him and simply it is stated that the matter has been settled between the parties. Such an evasive denial on the part of the husband itself indicates that he has not taken proper care of his wife, while she was in her parental house.
The judge further noted that the wife was a college student with no source of income, while the husband was a teacher in a school and was earning around Rs 22,000 per month. The Bench remarked,
Going by the provisions of the Act and the pleadings and evidence on record and legal proposition, it can be held that the husband has not been able to prove that he has no sufficient means to discharge his obligation and that he did not neglect or refused to maintain his wife, whereas the wife has been able to prove that there is neglect on his part to maintain his legally married wife.
The High Court thus re-directed the Trial Court to hear the matter once again and fix the maintenance amount, preferable within 2-months.
READ ORDER | Husband Has To Pay Maintenance Under Section 125 CrPC Even If Parties Signed Agreement: Gauhati HC— Voice For Men India (Previously Men's Day Out) (@voiceformenind) May 30, 2022
▪️Parties married in 2016, wife left home within 3-months
▪️Husband is earning Rs 22k per month
▪️Wife filed for Rs 18k maintenance per month https://t.co/ufaELb5aKs
Occasional Acts Of Adultery Cannot Be Ground To Deny Maintenance To Wife: Delhi High Court
READ ORDER | Domestic Inquiry Report Not Compulsory When Wife Initiates Proceeding U/S 12 Domestic Violence Act: Gauhati High Court
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