HC asks doctor to pay monthly maintenance to estranged wife


This is in addition to the permanent alimony of ₹3 lakh the woman received from him in 2003

The Madras High Court has directed a government doctor to pay a monthly maintenance of ₹15,000 to his estranged wife despite her having received ₹3 lakh in lump sum in 2003 following a compromise reached between them when she filed a petition seeking divorce. The court held that the woman was entitled to seek monthly maintenance, in addition to the permanent alimony, since now she had no means to maintain herself.

Justice P. Velumurugan pointed out that the marriage between the couple was solemnised in 1999 but they had no children. In 2002, the woman approached the Family Court seeking divorce but that petition was dismissed after the parties decided to compromise the issue on payment of ₹3 lakh towards permanent alimony and on transferring certain immovable properties in the name of the woman. Thereafter, the doctor remarried another woman and begot children.

In 2017, the woman filed a maintenance petition under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) before the Family Court in Dharmapuri and sought a direction to her husband to pay her monthly maintenance. She contended that one of the two immovable properties allotted to her as part of the compromise, was sold by his father to a third party, and the other property was not fetching any income at all due to its dilapidated condition.

Accepting her plea, the Family Court directed the doctor to pay her ₹21,500 a month and hence he moved the High Court with a revision petition. Disposing of the revision, the judge said: “Though the respondent had filed a divorce petition, they entered into a compromise and no divorce was granted. As such, the respondent continues to be the wife of the petitioner. Even otherwise, a divorced wife is also entitled to get maintenance.”

Further, pointing out that the properties given to her in permanent alimony were not fetching any income, the judge held that the doctor must pay her monthly alimony too since he was earning a monthly salary of ₹1 lakh from government service. Besides he was earning through private practice and the rental income from his properties. As per Section 125 of Cr.P.C., maintenance must be paid if a woman could not sustain herself, he said.

Nevertheless, holding that the amount of ₹21,500 a month fixed by the Family Court was on the high side, he reduced the quantum to ₹15,000 per month.

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