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Chetram Mali vs. Karishma Saini (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:8322-DB) - (High Court of Delhi) (21 Nov 2023)

Maintenance provisions under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 are gender neutral



Present appeal arises out of an Order passed by the learned Family Court Judge by which appellant was directed to pay the respondent a sum of ₹30,000/- per month towards maintenance pendente lite from the date of filing of the divorce petition till its disposal along with litigation expenses of ₹51,000/-.

The appellant was directed to pay a sum of ₹21,000/- per month as maintenance in the proceedings under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which was enhanced to ₹30,000/- in the proceedings under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA) without any change in circumstances. The appellant who has to support his aged parents and siblings is the only earning member with a gross salary of ₹1,04,276/- and the net salary received by the appellant after deductions and recoveries is ₹56,492/-.

The respondent claims to have no independent source of income but has reasonable educational background being a graduate from Delhi University. She appears to have voluntarily undertaken social work as claimed despite there being no impediment for undertaking a meaningful employment.

Therefore, the Court observed that the spouse having a reasonable capacity of earning but who chooses to remain unemployed and idle without any sufficient explanation or indicating sincere efforts to gain employment should not be permitted to saddle the other party with one sided responsibility of meeting out the expenses. The equivalence does not have to be with mathematical precision but with the objective to provide relief to the spouse by way of maintenance pendente lite and litigation expenses, who is unable to maintain and support during the pendency of proceedings and to ensure that party should not suffer due to paucity of source of income. The provision is gender neutral and the provisions of Sections 24 & 25 of HMA provide for the rights, liabilities and obligations arising from marriage between the parties under HMA. Appeal disposed off.


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