A husband must pay maintenance to his wife after separation. Not only should he treat this as a sacrosanct duty, but the law of the land also demands him to do so even if that means he must earn money by doing physical labor – there’s simply no escape route. That’s a stand the Supreme Court of India has taken on the controversial issue of whether or not paying financial aid to a divorced or separated wife should be mandatory for the husband.
The apex court, while delivering its verdict, said that the husband is obligated to ensure that the wife does not turn into a destitute or a beggar post separation from her husband. The bench hearing the issue also directed family courts to settle issues related to maintenance, divorce, property dispute and child custody at the earliest possible so as to ensure that the woman does not have endure financial hardship following separation.
“In fact, it is the sacrosanct duty to render the financial support even if the husband is required to earn money with physical labour, if he is able bodied. There is no escape route unless there is an order from the Court that the wife is not entitled to get maintenance from the husband on any legally permissible grounds,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda said.
The bench also made it clear that a woman is entitled to lead a life akin to the one she would have lived in the house of her husband.
“The concept of sustenance does not necessarily mean to lead the life of an animal, feel like an unperson to be thrown away from grace and roam for her basic maintenance somewhere else. She is entitled in law to lead a life in the similar manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband,” it said.
“That is where the status and strata come into play, and that is where the obligations of the husband, in case of a wife, become a prominent one. In a proceeding of this nature, the husband cannot take subterfuges to deprive her of the benefit of living with dignity.”