Homemakers entitled to equal share in properties purchased by their spouses, says Madras High Court

“The property may have been purchased either in the name of husband or wife, nevertheless, it must be considered to have been purchased with money saved by their joint efforts,” said Justice Krishnan Ramasamy

June 24, 2023 01:04 pm | Updated 03:14 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Madras High Court.

A view of the Madras High Court. | Photo Credit: PICHUMANI K

A homemaker performs a multi-dexterous job round-the-clock and without any holiday. She is expected to have managerial skills, culinary penchant and a knowledge of accounts and economics too. A woman taking care of a home also performs the job of a home doctor by providing basic medical support to family members. Therefore, her contributions cannot be discounted as valueless, the Madras High Court has said.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy held that a homemaker would be entitled to an equal share in properties purchased by her husband with his earnings, because he could not have earned the money without the support of his wife in looking after the family. “The property may have been purchased either in the name of husband or wife, nevertheless, it must be considered to have been purchased with money saved by their joint efforts,” he wrote.

He went on to state: “When the husband and wife are treated as two wheels of a family cart, then the contribution made either by the husband by earning or the wife by serving and looking after the family and children, would be for the welfare of the family and both are entitled equally to whatever they earned by their joint effort. The proper presumption is that the beneficial interest belongs to them jointly.”

The judge said, a woman could not be left with nothing to call of her own after having devoted herself to taking care of her husband and children. Though no legislation had been enacted so far to recognize the contribution made by a homemaker, the judge said, the courts could very well recognise this contribution and ensure that women get a fair deal when it comes to rewarding their sacrifices.

The verdict was delivered while disposing a 2016 second appeal preferred by an individual against his estranged wife whom he had married in 1965. The couple had two sons and a daughter and he was working in India till 1982. He took up a job in the Middle East between 1983 and 1994. After returning from there, he accused his wife of usurping properties purchased with his earnings. He also alleged that she had had an extra-marital affair.

Since the appellant died during the pendency of the second appeal in the High Court since 2016, his children stepped into his shoes and conducted the property case against their mother. Advocate V. Anusha, representing the aged woman, put forth the argument that the homemaker was entitled to an equal share in the properties for having devoted all her life in taking care of the family, and this argument found favour with the judge.

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