Cruelty findings in divorce proceedings not a basis to deny maintenance, says Delhi HC
NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court has clarified that findings of cruelty against a wife in divorce proceedings alone cannot be used to deny her maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Justice Amit Bansal’s order stressed the independence of maintenance claims under the Act and underscored the importance of considering each legal provision in its specific context.
He also observed that a revision petition could be filed with the High Court against an order passed by the sessions court in appeal under Section 29 of the Domestic Violence Act.
The ruling came in response to a wife’s plea against a Sessions Judge’s order that set aside a lower court order directing the husband to pay INR 1 lakh per month towards maintenance and compensation to her. The case involved a marriage that took place in 1991, and a child was born the same year.
A complaint under the Domestic Violence Act was filed in 2009, and a settlement agreement was reached during mediation.
The metropolitan magistrate’s order, which held that the wife had suffered “domestic violence” at the hands of the husband, was challenged by him before the sessions court and it had remanded the matter back to the trial court for a de novo trial, without fixing any interim maintenance to be paid to the wife.
Justice Bansal held that the writ petition filed by the wife was maintainable and directed the husband to pay a monthly sum of INR 50,000 as interim maintenance from December 16, 2009, until November 01, 2019.
The court noted that the sessions court’s decision to remand the case without fixing interim maintenance was unjustified and lacked reasoning. The appeal will be decided based on the material on record, and the parties will have the liberty to lead additional evidence, taking into account any change in circumstances after 2019-20, it added.