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HC dismisses woman’s plea for maintenance

MUMBAI: In an important order , the Bombay high court has dismissed the plea for maintenance of a Nagpur woman, who failed to go back to her husband’s house despite court orders.

Justice A P Bhangale said Meena Nadkar (31), did not honour the court’s order for “restitution of conjugal rights” on an application filed by her husband Ramesh Nadkar (36) . “There is nothing borne out from record that Meena made every effort to get back to the matrimony, but her husband did not allow her to be in his company.” The high court set aside a sessions court order asking Ramesh to pay Rs 1,000 as monthly maintenance to Meena.

Under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, a person can move the family court seeking help if his/her spouse leaves the matrimonial home without reason. The onus is on the spouse, who abandons, to prove he/she had reasons to leave and the court can order for restitution of conjugal rights. There are similar laws in the Special Marriage Act and other personal laws including the Muslim Law.

The high court stated that the wife can still claim maintenance even if the court orders her to go back to her husband, “if the conduct of the husband is such which obstructs her to obey the decree for restitution of conjugal rights.”

However, in the present case, the court ruled that there was no such material. It appears from the record that right from the beginning Meena’s matrimonial ties with Ramesh “was on and off” and she had left the matrimonial home for her parental home, said the high court.

“There is no material on record to come to a conclusion that the husband obtained the decree for restitution of conjugal rights just to avoid payment of maintenance allowance to the wife,” said Justice Bhangale.
Meena had married Ramesh in 2000 and they have son. Soon after this, Meena started living with her parents . In 2003, Ramesh filed an application for restitution of conjugal rights and the family court ordered her to return to her husband. Meena did not do so, and instead in 2004 she moved the magistrate’s court under the Criminal Procedure Code, seeking maintenance for herself and her son on the grounds that Ramesh had neglected and failed to maintain them.

The magistrate rejected the plea, but a year later a sessions court asked him to pay Rs 1,000 per month as maintenance . Ramesh agreed to pay maintenance to his son but contested the order directing him to pay any amount to his wife. Ramesh said Meena had left the house for no justifiable reason and despite repeated calls and a court order had refused to come back.

(Names of the couple changed to protect their identity )


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