The Gujarat High Court has ruled that the income tax returns filed by an individual need not be considered the “gospel truth” as a proof of his real income, and could not form the basis for deciding alimony for his estranged wife.

The observation was made by Justice Akil Kureshi while upholding an order of the Vadodara Sessions Court which had asked the husband to pay an alimony of Rs. 15,000 per month to his wife who had complained against the husband, Anup Vidhani, a Vadodara-based eye surgeon, under the “Protection of Women under the Domestic Violence Act.”

The husband had filed the petition in the High Court, challenging the Sessions Court’s order, claiming that his income was not sufficient to pay an alimony of Rs. 15,000.

He had submitted income tax returns as proof to show that he did not have a good medical practice in his dispensary and was forced to work in a private hospital where he earned only Rs. 4,000 a month as honorarium. His estranged wife, however, claimed that the doctor earned a minimum of Rs. 1 lakh per month.

Disagreeing with the petitioner’s contentions, Justice Kureshi ruled that the income tax returns filed by a person were “mostly declaration of his own income which need not necessarily, in all cases, be taken as a gospel truth.”

The petitioner had admitted that he was running his dispensary in Vadodara in premises owned by his mother, was living in a house owned by his father, owned a car, had telephone connection, owned mobile phones and such other facilities.

“If the petitioner is living a life of such comforts, it is necessary that the wife also must be permitted bare minimum existence of somewhat similar sets of facilities,” justice Kureshi said in his oral order.