DO HUSBANDS HAVE EQUAL RIGHT TO CLAIM MAINTENANCE?

Marriage is considered a universal social system and an inseparable part of mankind. With the advent of civilization, people have discovered that the country regulates all aspects of human life, and marriage is no exception. The legalization of a marriage relationship between two people can only take place after obtaining the consent of the country’s current laws, which are often referred to as marriage or marriage laws. A unique feature of Indian marriage law is its dynamism and diversity to accommodate the heterogeneous population of the country.

Under Hindu Law, marriage can be defined as a religious sacrament in which men and women are united in a lasting relationship to achieve the physical, social, and spiritual goals of Dharma, fertility, and sexual pleasure. Therefore, Hindu marriage is not only a social contract, but also a religious sacrament.

One thing that has attracted people’s attention over the years is the increase in divorce. Divorce documents are filed every day, many cases are filed every day, and many divorce decisions are issued every day. According to the divorce decree, both parties also receive alimony, but it should be noted that the alimony is mainly paid to the wife rather than the husband, which is a major worrying issue.

Marriage takes place between two parties, so rights of both the parties must be respected. We have seen women’s struggles over the years, and have seen the violence, torture, abuse, and trauma that husbands have imposed on their wives over the years, thus laws in favour of wives are justifiable, as held in the Shah Bano case. But in today’s world women are stronger and being a feminist myself, I strongly believe in equality in all aspects.

Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is the only act in India which provides husbands the right of maintenance under certain grounds. Sections 24 and 25 of the Act give a deserving wife or husband the right to claim alimony from the other party. In any case, such right to claim depends on the means, income and needs of the parties.

Section 24 of the Act states that if either of the spouses, as the case may be, has no independent income or support, he or she can give an application. If the application deems to be true, the court can order the respondent to pay to the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding, and monthly during the proceeding, taking into account both the petitioner’s and the respondent’s income. It is to be noted that according to this provision, a deserving, valuable husband who does not have enough independent income to pay his alimony and necessary legal expenses can receive alimony and expenses from his wife if she can afford it.

Taking into account the income of himself and his wife, the court can order the wife to pay such a reasonable amount to the husband; such a request must be resolved within 60 days. When proceeding under the act is over, the claim will naturally end. A party who has enough income and can generate income cannot apply for such temporary assistance.

When determining the amount, the court must consider the status and the needs of the parties and also consider their financial conditions. If the husband claims no independent income, the wife must prove otherwise, if the former’s statement is not true.

Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act discusses about permanent alimony/maintenance. Taking into account the defendant’s income and other assets, the court may, when necessary, order either the spouse to pay a specified total amount or a specified monthly or regular amount, for a period not to exceed the life of the applicant. The situation may change at the request of either party. Both the parties are required to disclose their assets, liabilities, income and other personal information, as the case may be. Those who are economically weak, live below the poverty line or are regularly employed can be exempted from the obligation to submit an Affidavit of Disclosure.

In Kamelandra Sawarkar v. Kamelandra, the Bombay High Court held that just because the wife is employed and earns decent amount of money, the husband cannot be solely dependent on the wife’s income because he is able-bodied, skilled and can earn to support himself. Thus, he was not maintainable under Section 24 of the Act. In another case of Yashpal Singh Thakur v Smt Anjana Rajput, it was held that respondent, who is not making any money though he is capable of getting private job, cannot claim maintenance from his wife.

In my opinion, this is unreasonable. Under the above circumstances, if the husband is employed and financially in good condition, and the wife is unemployed but qualified and capable, she can still ask for alimony, thus, clearly showing that our judicial system is not so favourable in providing maintenance to husbands.

In Bhagwan v. Kamla Devi, the Supreme Court held that even if a wife is earning, she can build a claim for maintenance if her financial gain isn’t ample to sustain her. The Court further stated that the wife ought to be in an exceedingly position to keep up her standard of living that is neither luxurious nor penurious however in consistent with the status of the family.

According to the laws, a husband cannot claim maintenance from his wife unless the husband is physically handicapped but a wife can claim maintenance under several grounds. Is it fair?

Article 14 of the Indian Constitution states the right to equality and this should be applied under all laws. There should not be any discrimination. This also includes the fact that under Indian Laws there are provisions of maintenance only available for Hindu husbands and depriving the Muslim and Christian husbands from the same because of lack of enabling provisions. The laws should be amended in such a way the husbands get a fair say in these situations.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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