Recently, the Gauhati High Court observed that a valid decree of divorce by itself could not be a ground to deny maintenance to a divorced woman.
In the petition, the petitioner sought quashing of order and judgment.
Background of the Case:-
The wife had filed an application u/s 125 of CrPC and claimed maintenance of Rs.5000 from her husband. But the husband filed another petition and stated that he was facing financial hardships and cannot pay the maintenance amount.
In the meantime, a divorce was granted in favour of the husband. The marriage was dissolved u/s Section 13(1)(i–a) and (i)(b) of Hindu Marriage Act.
The Court agreed to reduce the maintenance, but the wife filed a revision petition. It was argued that the grant of a divorce decree would not disentitle her to get maintenance. The revision was allowed by a Single Bench. However, the order was challenged by the husband.
Is a Divorced Woman Entitled to Maintenance U/s 125 CrpC?
After pursuing Section 125 and 127 of CrPC, the Court noted that the provisions were engrafted to protect the wife, children and elderly parents of a person to prevent them from becoming destitute.
The Court further held that Section 125 was inserted to help the wife when the husband refuses to pay maintenance and when an application is made, the magistrate will order the husband to pay maintenance so that the wife does not become destitute.
In recent cases, the Apex Court has clarified that a divorced wife will be covered under a wife’s definition as defined u/s 125 of CrPc.
It was further clarified that the husband’s responsibility towards a wife would not cease because divorce has been granted.
The Court referred to various cases including Rohtash Singh v. Ramendri, Manoj Kumar v. Champa Devi and Swapan Kumar Banerjee v. State of West Bengal.
Hon’ble Court held that the claim for maintenance could only be defeated if the woman remarries. The magistrate can only invoke his power u/s 127(2) of CrPC only when the circumstances change after the grant of maintenance u/s 125 of CrPC.
The Trial Court was directed to decide the matter afresh.
Title: Bijoy Seal vs Sefali Seal
Date of Order: 30.09.2020
Advocate for the Petitioner: P J SAIKIA
Advocate for the Respondent: K KALITA