In a landmark judgment, the Bombay High Court strongly opposed a businessman father’s attempt to wriggle out of his responsibility to provide the necessary maintenance to his minor son. Further, the court increased the monthly maintenance fee to INR 10,000 to his male child, who is now under the custody of his maternal uncle following his mother’s demise in the year 2001.
A division bench comprising justices Abhay Okha and Girish Kulkarni came up with the ruling in the wake of a petition from the eight year old son through his uncle. The petition sought an increase in the monthly maintenance from INR 2000 awarded by the family court in October 2008. The HC also directed the father to deposit the due arrears since 2008 in the son’s bank account within a period of one week and an amount of INR 25,000 as litigation cost to the maternal uncle.
The petition filed through advocates Prem Gidwani and Rita Panjwani submitted that the father should be ordered to pay a monthly maintenance of INR 50,000. Going by the petition, the marriage which took place on June 1998 in Rajasthan was an extravagant affair. The bride’s parents reportedly gifted INR 2 lakh in cash, gold ornaments worth INR 2 lakh along with two kilograms of silver utensils, 141 silver coins, Sony color TV, a washing machine and an assortment of household items.
Despite all the demands being fulfilled, the businessman harassed his wife even after the son was born. On December 05, 2001 the woman was admitted to a local hospital in Rajasthan, fighting burnt injuries. As there was no improvement in her condition, she was shifted to a hospital in Mumbai where she finally succumbed to her wounds.
The petition claimed that the son who is two and a half years of age has been staying with his maternal uncle and the father declined to provide any financial support. Challenging the petition through advocate Rajesh Khobragade, the businessman said that the allegations of demanding dowry and his monthly income being INR 10,000 lakh are purely baseless.
Observing that the businessman has been switching his versions from time to time, the judges concluded “It also indicates that the respondent (businessman) has done this with the object of avoiding his liability to pay maintenance to the appellant –his minor son. It can also be gathered that the respondent has in fact made false statement on oath before the family court that he is earning a salary and that he is not a businessman, which is very serious”.