Read Order: Kapil v. Varsha

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, April 26, 2022: While dealing with a petition challenging the award of maintenance granted by the Trial Court on the ground of it being on the higher side, the Punjab and Haryana has upheld the orders of the Courts below while opining that Section 125 of the CrPC  is meant to achieve social purpose and its object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution. 

The Bench of Justice Vivek Puri also added, “It is a piece of social legislation which provides for summary and speedy relief by way of maintenance to the wife who is unable to maintain herself.”

The petitioner has impugned the judgment of the Court of Principal Judge, Family Court, Palwal vide which maintenance @ Rs.5,000 p.m. was awarded in favour of the respondent in the proceedings under Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. 

The marriage between the parties was solemnized on April 26, 2012. It was the case of the respondent-wife that she was physically harassed; maltreated and turned out of her matrimonial house. Therefore, she instituted the petition under Section 125 of the Code for enforcement of her claim for maintenance. It was also alleged in the petition that the petitioner was working as Taxi driver at Delhi Airport and earning not less than Rs. 50,000/- p.m., while the respondent had no source of income.

The petitioner resisted the petition alleging that the respondent herself left the matrimonial house along with the entire gold/silver ornaments and a cash of Rs. 40,000/- without any rhyme or reason. It was also alleged that the petitioner had no source of income and was jobless while on the other hand, the respondent was doing the work of stitching and tailoring and earning Rs. 12,000/- p.m. 

Both the parties stepped into the witness box in support of the rival allegations. In terms of the impugned judgment, maintenance @ Rs. 5,000/- p.m. was awarded in favour of the respondent. 

It was mainly contended by counsel for the petitioner that, during the course of proceedings in the Court below, interim maintenance @ Rs.3,000/- p.m. was awarded which the petitioner was ready and willing. It was also his case that the petitioner was earning a meager amount of Rs.8,000/- to Rs.10,000/- p.m. on commission basis as and when he gets work.

The Court opined that merely because the respondent was granted interim maintenance @ Rs. 3,000/- p.m. could not be termed to be a circumstance to decline the claim of the respondent for maintenance at a higher rate at the final stage after the parties had substantiated the allegations with evidence. 

Before the Trial Court, the petitioner admitted in his cross-examination that he worked in a Company on commission basis and earned Rs. 8,000/- to Rs.10,000/- p.m. He even went to the extent of saying that the respondent was having illicit relations with many persons and earning Rs. 10,000/- to 15,000/- per day. 

It also emerged in the cross-examination of the respondent that at the earlier instance the petitioner was doing a job in India Prozone as Team Leader and subsequently, he was doing the work of to-let business.

After taking these factors into consideration, the Court opined that Section 125 of the Code is meant to achieve social purpose and its object is to prevent vagrancy and destitution. Justice Puri also asserted that it is a piece of social legislation which provides for summary and speedy relief by way of maintenance to the wife who is unable to maintain herself. 

Against this backdrop, the Court opined that it became hard for the Court to believe that as per the version of the petitioner, the respondent was having handsome income and in such circumstances, the petitioner would not be engaged in any avocation and not earning anything.  

It came to the light of the Court that since the passage of the order awarding maintenance to the respondent, the petitioner did not even pay a single penny on account of maintenance payable to the respondent. From the Trial Court judgment, the Court observed that the petitioner was engaged in the occupation which was much better than a casual labourer, and that there was nothing to suggest that the petitioner was not an able bodied person and in such circumstances, it could be safely assumed that the petitioner must be earning more than Rs. 15,000 p.m. 
Consequently, the Court held that the amount of maintenance awarded in favour of the respondent cannot be termed to be on a higher side or excessive. Thus, the Petition was dismissed.

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