A healthy man is obliged to provide through legal means, even by physical labour, for his wife and minor children, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment.
A Bench led by Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said it was a basic canon of law “that it is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to provide financial support to the wife and to the minor children. The husband is required to earn money even by physical labour… If he is able-bodied, he cannot avoid his obligation, except on the legally permissible grounds”.
The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman who failed to win her case for maintenance from her estranged husband, represented by advocate Dushyant Parashar, in the Family Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The woman had argued in the High Court that the lower court had denied her claim for maintenance on perfunctory grounds. The husband contended that she had left the marital home with the children without a justifiable reason and had also failed to prove that she could not maintain herself.
But the apex court said the purpose of maintenance was to prevent even the slightest possibility of an estranged wife facing destitution. Maintenance was a speedy remedy to ensure her sustenance.
“It is accordingly directed that the respondent [husband] shall pay maintenance amount of ₹10,000 per month to the appellant-wife from the date of filing of her maintenance petition before the Family Court. The entire amount of arrears shall be deposited by the respondent in the Family Court within eight weeks…” the apex court ordered.