Written by Vineeta Pandey
New Delhi: A man in Ropar has approached a court in Punjab for permission to sell his kidney to pay Rs8,000 maintenance to his estranged wife. The man’s monthly income is Rs3,600.
While the judgement is still awaited, this unique case has generated strong demands for a “rational maintenance” in proportion to the husband’s salary.
A woman can seek maintenance from her estranged husband under laws like Section 125 CrPC, Section 23 of Domestic Violence Act (DVA), Section 24 Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), Section 18 Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Acts (HAMA), Section 25 Hindu Marriage Act etc. In fact, Section 24 of HMA even provides relief to a man who has no independent income, besides necessary expense for court proceedings. But husbands claim that men are rarely considered for maintenance while in many cases maintenance has been awarded to wives much beyond the capacity of the husbands.
They now want the judiciary to ponder over the fact that a working and well-qualified wife is an empowered woman and has, hence, no right to claim maintenance.
These husbands have written to law minister Veerappa Moily and the Chief Justice of India, proposing a concept of three year interest-free loan to non-working spouses to enable them to get gainful employment.
“The courts should not force an unemployed man to pay maintenance. We have seen cases were husbands are forced to either sell their organs or told to beg/borrow/steal to pay maintenance. Maintenance should be looked upon as a means to survive, not an easy route to tax-free luxuries. The way courts are ordering maintenance in the range Rs20,000-30,000 is completely unacceptable. Maintenance should not be a matter of right but awarded in certain circumstances,” said Virag Dhulia of Save India Family Foundation (SIFF), an organisation of harassed husbands.
While some recent judgments indicate that the courts are slowly trying to maintain a balance, the men say it is a drop in the ocean. “The pendulum swings too far to one side. Judiciary has to be sensitive to reality and actual conditions,” lawyer Prashant Bhushan said.