Can a Husband Claim Maintenance from Wife?

April 18, 2018

YES, a husband can claim maintenance from wife under the statutory provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Under what Laws Husband can claim Maintenance from wife?

Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 providing for maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings states that where it appears to the Court that either the wife or the husband, as the case may be, has no independent income sufficient for her or his support and the necessary expenses of the proceeding, it may, on the application of the wife or the husband, order the respondent to pay to the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding, and monthly during the proceeding such sum as, having regard to the petitioner’s own income and the income of the respondent.

Section 25 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 providing for permanent alimony and maintenance states that the Court may on an application made to it by either the wife or the husband order that the respondent shall pay to the applicant for her or his maintenance and support such gross sum or such monthly or periodical sum having regard to the respondent’s own income and other property, if any, the income and other property of the applicant.

Case Laws on Husband Claiming Maintenance from Wife 

A bare perusal of the aforesaid statutory provisions indicates that the Law does not discriminate between husband and wife for instituting a claim of maintenance. However, the various judgments rendered by the Courts in India aid in streamlining the law and in understanding the factors the Court take into consideration while granting maintenance to husband in a particular case.

Husband Seeking Maintenance from Wife can be treated only as Exceptional Case

Case name: Nivya VM v. Shivaprasad N.K. (Kerala High Court)

In this case, the husband had sought maintenance pendente lite from the wife under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

While determining the facts of the case, the Court made the following key observations pertaining to maintenance claim by husband.

  • That under Section 24 a petition can be filed by either wife or husband who is without any employment and no source of income to support pendente lite maintenance and litigation expenses from the other spouse, who is capable of providing the same. So a petition filed by the husband for this purpose is perfectly maintainable by virtue of the wordings of Section 24 of the Act.
  • In the case of wife filing an application for maintenance from the husband, unless he is able to establish that he is permanently disabled from getting any income, he cannot be exonerated from the payment of maintenance to his wife.
  • That a husband seeking maintenance from the wife can be treated only as exceptional case as normally he has got the liability or obligation to maintain the wife and vice versa is only exceptional.
  • That a husband not making any attempt to earn money though capable of getting private job cannot claim maintenance from the wife who was in Government service. So it is clear from the dictum mentioned above that it is not a normal practice of husband applying for maintenance from the wife who is employed though he is capable of maintaining himself by doing some work.
  • If such an attitude has been taken by the Courts, then idleness of husbands will be promoted and they will be tempted not to do any work and depend on the wife for their livelihood, and such thing is not expected to be promoted in the society and that was not the intention of Section 24 of the Act providing maintenance to either party to the proceedings.
  • That the legislative intent under Section 24 was intended to support only such spouse who is really incapable of maintaining himself/herself to get something for their sustenance and to conduct the litigation which they were forced to face from the other party to the proceedings who is capable of supporting the other spouse and nothing more.

Under what Circumstances the Husband is entitled to get Maintenance

Case name: Kamelendra Sawarkar v. Kamalendra @ Kamalakar s/o. Rajar(Bombay High Court)

In this case, the Bombay High Court took the question as to under what circumstances, the husband is entitled to get maintenance under Section 24 of the Act. In the case it was held that since the wife is in employment, the husband cannot make himself wholly depend on her income through a devise under Section 24 of the Act. In the absence of any handicap or impediment to earn, to grant maintenance to such able bodied person equipped with skill would promote idleness, which is opposed to spirit of Section 24 of the Act.

Husband can’t Incapacitate Himself and Depend on Earning of the Wife

Case name: Yashpal Singh Thakur v. Smt. Anjana Rajput (Madhya Pradesh High Court) 

In the case the Madhya Pradesh High Court held that it is true that Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 entitles either party to move an application for maintenance provided such party has no means of subsistence and the other party is in a position to provide maintenance. But it does not mean that the husband who is otherwise capable of earning his living should stop earning the living and start depending on the earning of the wife. In that case the husband has incapacitated himself by stopping the running the auto rickshaw on hire. It is well established maxim of Anglo Saxion jurisprudence that no person can be allowed to incapacitate himself. That maxim is applicable to the case of earning husband. A person who voluntarily incapacitates himself from earning is not entitled to claim maintenance from the other spouse.

Delhi High Court Grants Rs.20000/- as Monthly Maintenance to Husband

Case name: Rani Sethi v. Sunil Sethi (Delhi High Court)

In the case, the husband had sought maintenance from his wife under Section 24 of the Act and the Trial Court based on the facts and circumstances of the case directed the wife to pay maintenance to the respondent @Rs. 20000/- and Rs. 10000 as litigation expenses and also to provide Zen Car for the use of the respondent husband.

Aggrieved by the same, the wife approached the High Court whereby the Court made the following observations:

  • That the purpose of Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act is to provide support to a spouse who has no independent source of income and is incapable of maintaining himself/herself.
  • It is trite law that the term “support” is not to be construed in a narrow manner so as to mean bare subsistence. It means that the other spouse, who has no independent source of income, is provided with such maintenance so as to live in a similar status as was enjoyed by them in their matrimonial home. It is the purpose of Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act that the wife or the husband who has no sufficient source of income for her or his support or for the expenses of the proceedings must be provided with such reasonable sum that strikes equity between the spouses.

In view of the facts of the case and the settled position of law the Delhi High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the Trial Court’s order.

Here it would be relevant to mention that in the aforesaid case, wife and husband had set up the business together initially by selling the respondent’s ancestral property. However, later on the husband was thrown out of the matrimonial home with few of his articles.

Also read Landmark Judgments of 2017 on Maintenance

Also see How to Claim Maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC

Also read SC: Judicially Separated Wife is also entitled for Maintenance

About the Author

Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.