Wife not Entitled to Maintenance if Divorce Decree Passed on Grounds of Desertion- Del HC

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January 23, 2019

In this recent case, the High Court of Delhi has reiterated that once decree of divorce was passed on the ground of desertion by the wife, she would not be entitled to maintenance for any period prior to the passing of the decree of divorce.

Case name: Archita v. Sunil Seth

In the instant case, the Petitioner wife assailed Trial Court’s order, whereby the Court dismissed her application under Section 125 of CrPC on the ground that the petitioner has failed to show that she had sufficient cause for living separately. Here it would be relevant to mention that the respondent husband had obtained decree of divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion by the Petitioner wife.

The relevant law involved in the facts of the case is Section 125(4) of CrPC which bars a wife from receiving any maintenance if without any sufficient reason she refuses to live with her husband.

Bench’s Verdict

The High Court of Delhi dismissed the petition in the case and upheld the Trial Court’s order on the basis of following observations made in the case:

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court made reference to Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of Rohtash Singh Vs. Ramendri & Ors.[1], wherein the Supreme Court held that a woman has two distinct rights for maintenance. (i) As a wife, she is entitled to maintenance unless she suffers from any of the disabilities indicated in Section 125(4) of CrPC (ii) In another capacity, i.e., as a divorced woman, she is again entitled to claim maintenance from the person of whom she was once the wife. A woman after divorce becomes a destitute and if she cannot maintain herself or remains unmarried, the man who was once her husband continues to be under a statutory duty and obligations to provide maintenance.

It was also held in the case by the Apex Court that once decree of divorce was passed on the ground of desertion by the wife, she would not be entitled to maintenance for any period prior to the passing of the decree under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Thus, the High Court in view of the aforesaid law laid down by the Supreme Court held that the petitioner is clearly disentitled to maintenance for the period prior to the passing of the decree of divorce.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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[1] (2000) 3 SCC 180