Bombay HC orders woman to pay maintenance to ailing ex-husband

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The Bombay High Court recently issued a significant ruling, directing a working woman to provide monthly maintenance to her former husband, who is unable to earn due to medical ailments. Here’s a breakdown of the key points and legal implications:

Court decision and legal interpretation:

– A single bench of Justice Sharmila Deshmukh delivered the order on April 2, 2024.

– The court emphasized that the term “spouse” in the Hindu Marriage Act includes both husband and wife.

– Referring to Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, the court affirmed that if either spouse is unable to maintain themselves, the other spouse is liable to provide interim maintenance.

– The ruling was based on the fact that the ex-husband was medically unfit to work, while the woman had a source of income.

Background and disputed claims:

– The woman had challenged a March 2020 order from a civil court, which directed her to pay Rs 10,000 as monthly maintenance to her ex-husband.

– Despite the divorce between the couple, the family court granted the ex-husband’s application for maintenance due to his medical condition.

– The woman argued financial constraints, citing home loan repayment and child maintenance responsibilities. She claimed to have resigned from her job in 2019.

– However, the High Court questioned her financial status, noting her lack of evidence regarding joblessness and expenditure management.

Legal analysis and conclusion:

– The court highlighted the importance of disclosure and transparency in financial matters during legal proceedings.

– Despite the woman’s claims of unemployment, the court noted her failure to provide evidence of financial hardship.

– The ruling underscores the principle of equitable distribution of financial responsibilities between spouses, especially in cases of medical incapacity.

– This decision sets a precedent for cases involving maintenance obligations, emphasizing the holistic interpretation of matrimonial laws to ensure fairness and support for vulnerable parties.

The Bombay High Court’s ruling reaffirms the legal principle of spousal support and underscores the need for transparent financial disclosure in matrimonial disputes. It serves as a reminder of the court’s commitment to upholding equitable rights and responsibilities within marital relationships, particularly in cases involving medical incapacitation.