Revealing a rather curious aspect of the Domestic Violence Act, the Delhi high court (HC) provided relief on Friday to a man facing a maintenance case filed by his estranged wife.
HC was hearing a plea filed by Sanjay Bhardwaj. It quashed the trial court’s order which ordered Bhardwaj to pay his wife maintenance of Rs5,000 as he was unemployed.
“Domestic Violence Act does not create any additional right in favour of a wife regarding maintenance. It only enables the magistrate to pass a maintenance order as per the rights available under the existing laws,” justice SN Dhingra said.
Dismissing the myth that a husband has to maintain his wife, HC said, “No law provides that a husband has to maintain his estranged wife, irrespective of whether he earns or not.
A court cannot tell the husband to beg, borrow or steal and give maintenance to his wife, more so when the husband and wife are equally qualified and claim to be employed before marriage.”
Bhardwaj, an NRI, worked in Luanda, Angola in Africa and had come to India in 2007 to marry. The marriage failed within three weeks, but he could not return to Africa as his passport was seized after his wife sued him for dowry harassment.
“If the husband is a BSc graduate and masters in marketing management from Puducherry University, the wife has also studied her MA in English and MBA. If the husband works as a manager abroad, the wife is also working in an MNC in India. Under these circumstances, fixing of maintenance by the court without there being even a prima facie proof of the husband being employed in India and that he was not permitted to leave country is contrary to law and not warranted under the provisions of Domestic Violence Act,” it said.
“Since both are on equal footing one can’t be asked to maintain the other,” the court said.