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Man who divorced wife for desertion can’t deny maintenance: Supreme Court

‘Once the relationship of marriage comes to an end, the woman is not under any obligation to live with her ex-husband’.

A man who claimed his wife deserted him and divorced her cannot later deny her grant of maintenance on the ground that she was unwilling to live with him, the Supreme Court reasoned in a judgment recently.

“The husband cannot urge that he can divorce his wife on the ground that she has deserted him and then deny maintenance which should otherwise be payable to her on the ground that even after divorce she is not willing to live with him,” a Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed.

Once the relationship of marriage comes to an end, the woman obviously is not under any obligation to live with her former husband, Justice Gupta, who wrote the verdict for the Bench, observed.

The deeming fiction of the divorced wife being treated as a wife can only be read for the limited purpose for grant of maintenance and the deeming fiction cannot be stretched to the illogical extent that the divorced wife is under a compulsion to live with the ex-husband, the court held.

The court was interpreting Section 125 (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The provision deals with maintenance from a husband to a wife.

The husband, in this case evoked sub section (4), which says “no wife shall be entitled to receive an allowance for the maintenance or the interim maintenance and expenses of proceeding, as the case may be, from her husband under this Section if she is living in adultery, or if, without any sufficient reason, she refuses to live with her husband, or if they are living separately by mutual consent.”

The couple in the case divorced in 2000. The husband claimed that the wife had deserted him in 1987.

The husband got remarried within a year of the divorce. It was only after that the woman filed for grant of maintenance.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 9:48:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/man-who-divorced-wife-for-desertion-cant-deny-maintenance-supreme-court/article29550426.ece

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