Bombay High Court Orders Woman to Provide Support to Unemployed, Ailing Husband

Bombay High Court mandates a woman to financially support her unemployed, ill husband, upholding a lower court's decision in a divorce case.

In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court has affirmed a lower court's decision mandating a woman to provide a monthly maintenance sum of Rs 10,000 to her unemployed spouse, who also suffers from medical ailments. The woman, who claimed to have resigned from her position as a branch manager at a bank, submitted a resignation letter from 2019 to support her assertion of being jobless. However, despite her documentation, the court maintained the directive.

The lower court, situated in Kalyan, emphasized the necessity for the woman to divulge the source of funds for managing household expenses, particularly since she was shouldering responsibilities such as repaying a home loan and caring for their minor child. Quoting the lower court, "It is necessary for her to disclose the source from which the expenses were being met. It is therefore clear that even after resignation from the bank, she was earning and had a source of income."

The legal dispute traces back to 2016 when the husband initiated divorce proceedings. Both parties subsequently sought interim maintenance from each other. While the lower court dismissed the woman's plea, it granted the husband's application, directing the wife to provide him with Rs 10,000 monthly, citing her purported monthly earnings of around Rs 65,000 during her tenure at the bank. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the wife contested the decision in the high court.

During the high court proceedings, Justice Sharmila Deshmukh observed that the woman's counsel did not contest the fact that she presently earns an income. Furthermore, the court noted the absence of documentary evidence regarding the woman's income, both in the trial court and during the current proceedings. Justice Deshmukh remarked, "If it was the contention of the wife that she had the liability for payment of certain expenses, it was necessary for her to place the same on record so that the trial court could have assessed the quantum of maintenance which is to be granted to the husband."

Highlighting the inherent uncertainty in determining interim maintenance without substantial evidence, the bench emphasized the importance of presenting relevant financial information for the trial court's assessment. Concluding the judgment, the bench underscored, "Even if it is taken that the wife has certain expenses to be met, it was incumbent upon her to place the necessary material before the trial court so that it would have been in a position to assess the quantum of maintenance to be granted. Unfortunately, the same has not been done in this case."