Delhi HC Directs Ex-J&K CM Omar Abdullah to Pay Rs 1.5L Monthly Maintenance to Estranged Wife

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed former Jammu Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to his estranged wife every month as interim maintenance.

It also directed him to pay Rs 60,000 each for the education of his two sons every month.

The court’s order came on petitions by Payal Abdullah and the couple’s sons against 2018 lower court orders granting them interim maintenance of Rs 75,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively, till the boys attained the age of majority.

Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that the former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister has the financial capacity to provide a “decent standard of living to his wife and children” and that he ought not to abdicate his duties as a father.

“Respondent (Omar Abdullah) is a man of means, and has access to financial privilege that evades the common man. While it is understandable that being a politician, revealing all information pertaining to financial assets might be dangerous, however, there is no iota of doubt that the Respondent does have the resources to provide for his wife and children,” said the court.

“(This court directs) the interim maintenance amount to be increased from Rs. 75,000/- per month to Rs. 1,50,000/- per month for the Petitioner (Payal Abdullah) …from the date of the application… Resultantly, this Court directs the Respondent to pay a sum of Rs. 60,000/- per month per son ..for the purpose of their education,” it ordered.

Omar Abdullah submitted before the high court he was discharging his duty of maintaining the children and his wife was consistently misrepresenting her actual financial position.

The court, in its order, observed that attainment of majority by a son should not absolve a father of his responsibilities of maintaining his children and ensuring their proper education, and that the mother cannot be the only one bearing the burden of expenses for raising and educating them.

“Even if the wife has sufficient financial means to sustain herself, the husband cannot wash his hands off the responsibilities that are bestowed upon him when it comes to the upbringing of his children,” the court said.

“The Petitioner has been saddled with the responsibility of paying the entire fee for the education of both the children, however, it was the duty of the father to also contribute towards their education. Therefore, even though the sons are not entitled to any maintenance as per the law, this Court is of the opinion that the Respondent should compensate the Petitioner by sharing the burden of the amount spent by her towards the expenses and upkeep of the children,” the court said.

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The court clarified the period of compensation shall commence from the date when the children were enrolled in their law college, and shall subsist till their graduation from there.

“This court is pained to note that in such acrimonious proceedings, the parents tend to make their children their pawns, sidelining their happiness in order to vindicate themselves,” remarked Justice Prasad.

The court, however, rejected Payal Abdullah’s request to increase, at this stage, the maintenance amount for the purpose of payment of rent of her present dwelling.

“The learned Family Court has rightly observed in the impugned order that the property owned by the wife, which is located at Westend, New Delhi, is lying vacant. It is not only at the disposal of Payal Abdullah for her to take up residence there, but is also available to her for fetching rent out of it,” the court said.

Noting that the maintenance plea by the petitioners was filed in the year 2016, the court asked the family court to dispose it of as expeditiously as possible, preferably within 12 months.

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