Regarding arbitrary, exorbitant and high maintenance amount awarded by Courts and harassment to husband and his family members in the name of “protection of women”
5th Aug 2011
Smt Sonia Gandhi,
National Advisory Council
Subject: Regarding arbitrary, exorbitant and high maintenance amount awarded by Courts and harassment to husband and his family members in the name of “protection of women”
About National Family Harmony Society®: “National Family Harmony Society®” NFHS is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) promoting the cause of “family harmony” and “gender equality”. It is registered under “The Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1960” and is based in Bangalore. We have branches in more than 16 states and in abroad too. We have approximately 16500 members all over India. To know more about us please visit http://www.family-harmony.org / http://www.498a.org.in.
We are sure that the, you must be concerned about the high rate of Divorce and breaking of families. We have been relentlessly petitioning Government from many years citing various reasons for this trend and have been organizing protests, dharna and procession etc from time to time. But we have not been able to get any concrete proposal from Government to stop the breaking of families.
Alarmed by another disturbing trend in the recent times which can have serious implication in the society, we are writing this petition to you in the hope that concrete steps will be taken in this regard. The trend is the tendency of the courts to pass very high, excessive, exorbitant and unreasonable amount of maintenance awarded to estranged wife in case of matrimonial disputes.
There have been media reports in recent times that amount of 40000/- per month and 40 lakhs etc are being awarded as maintenance amount citing the status of wife, earning capacity of husband etc. While not many will dispute to give reasonable maintenance to wife but at the same time it seems that these orders are being passed as there is no bar on the higher side of maintenance in Law. While most of the discussion in court orders revolve around a reasonable amount of maintenance but there seems to be no clarity, consensus or agreement in the Judiciary on this as can be seen from a widely contrasting orders from different courts.
In our NGO, we have come across a case where a husband has been ordered to pay around 50% of his salary. While everyone seems to be emotionally and heavily biased towards wife, conveniently forgetting that a husband also has aged old parents and could have siblings like brothers and sisters whose marriage and education he needs to support. A broken marriage is not a crime but the Gender biased laws of this country makes sure that in case of matrimonial dispute a husband and all his family members are sent to Jail merely on the allegation of wife, thanks to heavy misuse of 498A IPC.
Coming to the issue of maintenance, passing of 30%, 40% maintenance against husband is nothing but absurd and injustice to husband and his family members. Even if we do a simple calculation and look at our own families, we can easily calculate how much a person needs per month for his/her survival. Just to stress this point with an example, if a person has wife and a child and age old parent and one brother and one sister then his income needs to be divided into 7 parts atleast as son is the main bread earner when parent grow old. It is a matter of common knowledge that a person does not spend everything and saves as much as possible for a rainy day. And also Just because a person has married does not absolve him from taking care of his parent and siblings. Considering all this 1/10th of a person’s monthly take home salary seems to be reasonable amount of maintenance provided the estranged wife is illiterate and handicapped. If an estranged wife is well qualified and well bodied then her maintenance claim should be rejected outright.
While passing maintenance most of the time the standard phrase is “Husband is well bodied”. Well that is true for women also. Also most of the time maintenance is passed citing the status of the couple. Well a husband might had married a women who is from poor family and husband might be in good financial position and assuming that marriage lasted only for couple of months, can the wife be awarded maintenance on the changed status? It is absurd even to think of that because a significant portion of her life she spent in poor financial status.
While in matrimonial dispute, it seems most of the court orders related to maintenance seems to be passed emotionally rather than as per Law, we should not forgot that a husband also has mother and sister who are also women and whom he needs to support. In fact mother will be aged and in need of financial assistance for her medical needs.
We would also like to invite your kind attention to another important issue which is in dire need of reforms by the Parliament and that issue is of “Multiple maintenance” or in other words “Duplication of Law”. There are more than five sections in Law which enables an estranged wife to claim maintenance from her husband in case of matrimonial dispute. They are Domestic Violence Act, CrPC 125, HMA24, HMA25 and HAMA18. It has become a trend by estranged wife to file all possible section against husband in order to harass him and to extract maximum maintenance.
We would also like to invite your kind attention that “women empowerment” cannot be achieved by “harassing husband” and his family members. “Women empowerment” can be achieved only by making them educated, self reliant and making them skillfully employed. What will happen to women if she is receiving 40000/- per month maintenance and then her Ex-husband dies after few years. Such women will virtually come on road as she is neither employed nor can seek employment without any experience.
In view of above discussion and reasoning, we demand following
- Mandate Law Commission of India to study how various maintenance laws can be simplified into one law so that it will benefit both wife and husband in case of matrimonial disputes and also it will bring pendency of court cases significantly.
- Amend current maintenance laws to put a cap of not more than 1/10th take home salary per month.
- Maintenance should not be given to educated, working, well bodied or adulterous wife
- No maintenance should be given to wife if husband gets acquittal in 498A IPC or any criminal case initiated by wife.
- Number of years elapsed in marriage should be a critical factor in deciding maintenance as there are series of cases where even after few days of marriage wife has put maintenances cases.
- When considering status of wife, while deciding maintenance, more weightage should be given to the status of wife before marriage.
- Wife should not be allowed to put two or more maintenance cases. Once she prefers a forum for filing maintenance case, others forum should not accept her petition.
- Maintenance should be granted for the purpose to maintain decent life style and not for luxury.
- Tendency to pass high maintenance in the form of interim maintenance should be stopped as the charges/allegations are not proved at that stage.
We submit that our demands are just and reasonable and in the event of non-implementation of our demands, we would be constrained to go to the streets with dharnas, Public Fasting and resort to other democratic means of protests.
Please save the family and thereby save our great Nation to retain India a “Vasudeva Kutumbaham”.
With profound respects,
P Suresh, President, M Mahesh, General Secretary,
National Family Harmony Society National Family Harmony Society