Husband is not bound to maintain a well qualified wife who is sitting idle and not working

Family Court, Mumbai: Looking at the burden on the husband to provide maintenance to his wife even in cases where the wife is well educated and capable enough to earn for her living, a bench of S.A. Morey J gave a landmark judgment in favour of husband to curb the misuse of the provision of maintenance, and held that a wife who is well qualified and is capable to earn cannot sit idle and claim maintenance from her husband.

In the instant case, petitioner-wife moved an application before this Court for grant of maintenance from the respondent-husband during the pendency of petition under Section 125 CrPC. The petitioner alleged that she was forced to live separately as the respondent and his family members ill-treated and harassed her for bringing less dowry. The petitioner contended that the respondent is a successful businessman and is doing business not only in India but also in Dubai and other countries, and that his total income per month is more than Rs. 15 lakhs, and therefore considering the status of her husband, she prayed for grant of maintenance @ Rs. 2 lakhs per month.

Firstly, the Court rejected the contention of the respondent that the petitioner is not entitled to get maintenance as she is not legally wedded wife and that marriage between them was dissolved by way of talaq, and held that Section 125 CrPC itself has given definition of ‘wife’ which includes divorcee wife and makes clear that a Muslim woman who is either divorcee or who obtained divorce is entitled to get maintenance till her remarriage, and therefore respondent’s contention does not affect the right of the petitioner to claim maintenance. Secondly, the Court observed that the petitioner is well qualified, has completed degree in Food and Science Nutrician, is Post Graduate in Dietician field, had worked as a dietician with an income of Rs. 50000 per month, and has experience of working with reputed companies like Larsen and Toubro etc but at present she is not working.

The Court relied on Mamta Jaiswal v. Rajesh Jaiswal, 2000 (3) MPLJ 100, where it was held that “well qualified wife is not entitled to remain as an idle and claim maintenance from her husband”. The Court noted that the facts of the present case clearly shows that the petitioner is having good capacity to earn and therefore held that “the wife who is well qualified and claiming maintenance by sitting idle is not entitled to get maintenance”. Accordingly, the Court rejected the application filed by the petitioner. Firdos Mohd. Shoeb Khan v. Mohd. Shoeb Mohd. Salim Khan, decided on 20.02.2015.

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