Wife entitled for equal share in property, rules Madras High Court

The Madras High Court has ruled that a wife is entitled to equal share in the property bought by her husband and said the many roles played by her cannot be less equated with the 8-hour job of the husband.

Justice Krishnan Ramasamy gave the order recently over a property dispute involving a couple, with the original appellant, since deceased.

He claimed ownership for the property, while alleging she was also involved in an extra-marital affair. His children were later impleaded in the case following his death.

The judge said the defendant woman being a homemaker, though she did not make any direct financial contribution, she played a vital role in managing the household chores by looking after the children, cooking, cleaning and managing day-to-day affairs of the family without giving any inconvenience to the plaintiff who had gone abroad for work.

“And moreover, she sacrificed her dreams and spent her entire life towards the family and children,” the court noted.

“In generality of marriages, the wife bears and rears children and minds the home. She thereby frees her husband for his economic activities. Since it is her performance of her function which enables the husband to perform his, she is in justice, entitled to share in its fruits,” the judge observed.

A wife, being a homemaker performs many tasks– a Manager, Chef, “Home Doctor” and also “Home Economist” with financial skills, the judge said.

“Therefore, by performing these skills, a wife makes the home as a comfortable environment and her contribution towards the family, and certainly it is not a valueless job, but it is a job doing for 24 hours without holidays, which cannot be less equated with that of the job of an earning husband who works only for 8 hours,” he said.

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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 court added.

“The proper presumption is that the beneficial interest belongs to them jointly. The property may be purchased either in the name of husband or wife alone, but nevertheless, it is purchased with the monies saved by their joint efforts,” the judge said.

In the present case, if the first defendant/ wife was not there, certainly, the plaintiff (deceased man) would not have gone abroad and earned all the money, the court said and ordered equal share for either in certain immovable property.

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