Tribunal grants a lower sum as an interim measure

The Kochi Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal, in a key judgment, has set aside an Army order granting maintenance to the estranged wife of a military doctor working at the Air Force Command Hospital in Bangalore.

The tribunal, however, allowed grant of a lower sum as monthly maintenance as an interim measure, subject to adjustment with permanent alimony likely to be ordered by a family court in Mumbai hearing the divorce petition filed by the officer’s wife.

The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Army Command in Pune had earlier passed an order for grant of maintenance to Leena, wife of Major Chandan Kumar Thakur, at the rate of 22 per cent of the officer’s monthly salary. Instructions were also issued to grant 5.5 per cent of his salary for the couple’s four-year-old son.

Major Thakur approached the tribunal seeking quashing of the Army order after Ms. Leena, a resident of Mumbai, moved the family court in Bandra seeking divorce and a permanent alimony of Rs. 50 lakh. He contended that the provisions of the Family Court Act would override the provisions of the Army Act in the grant of maintenance to his wife. The Major did not object to the Army order of maintenance for his child.

Ms. Leena, who was not represented in the tribunal, had alleged, in her appeal to the Army authorities in 2010, physical and mental torture by her husband. She had accused him of demanding dowry. In response to a show-cause notice served by the Army, Major Thakur denied the charges and accused his in-laws of fomenting trouble in the marriage.

The Major and his wife, also a medical graduate, had a love marriage. The Kochi Bench of the tribunal cited a previous judgment of its Principal Bench in New Delhi in a similar case before setting aside the Army order. It allowed the Army to deduct, as an interim measure, Rs. 15,000 every month from the Major’s salary towards Ms. Leena’s maintenance for her ‘sustenance’ and endorsed the Army decree of deduction of 5.5 percent of his pay for the couple’s son.

  • Army ordered alimony of 22% of Major’s salary

  • Major approached tribunal against order