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V. Usha Rao Vs. M.L.N. Rao - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R. No. 4020 of 2000
Judge
Reported inI(2002)DMC52
ActsHindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 13 and 24
AppellantV. Usha Rao
RespondentM.L.N. Rao
Appellant Advocate Mr. B.S. Guliani, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Mr. Arun Jain, Adv.
Cases ReferredIn Bhanwar Lal v. Kamta Devi
Excerpt:
- .....dissolution of his marriage with her by decree of divorce, an application under section 24 of the hindu marriage act was filed by the wife for the grant of maintenance pendente lite to her at the rale of rs. 10,000/- per month and rs. 15,000/- towards litigation expenses. it was alleged by her in her application under section 24 of the hindu marriage act that she is working as an assistant blood transfusion officer in the department of blood bank, pgi, chandigarh and her salary is rs. 16,474/- out of which she has to pay income tax. she is putting in a working women's hostel, pgi, campus, chandigarh. she has to deposit rs. 2050/- on account of rent and diet charges and in case, she uses heater, fridge, press etc., she has to pay extra amount. there is a private telephone got installed.....
Judgment:

M.L. Singhal, J.

1. In a petition filed under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act by Dr. K.L.N. Rao (husband) against Dr. V. Usha Rao (wife) for dissolution of his marriage with her by decree of divorce, an application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act was filed by the wife for the grant of maintenance pendente lite to her at the rale of Rs. 10,000/- per month and Rs. 15,000/- towards litigation expenses. It was alleged by her in her application under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act that she is working as an Assistant Blood Transfusion Officer in the department of Blood Bank, PGI, Chandigarh and her salary is Rs. 16,474/- out of which she has to pay income tax. She is putting in a Working Women's Hostel, PGI, Campus, Chandigarh. She has to deposit Rs. 2050/- on account of rent and diet charges and in case, she uses heater, fridge, press etc., she has to pay extra amount. There is a private telephone got installed by her in her room for which she has to bear Rs. 1,000/- bi- monthly telephone charges. She is thus not left with any amount. On the other hand, her husband is Professor and Head, Department of Paediatric Surgery, PGI, Chandigarh. His monthly salary is Rs. 36,640/-. Apart from it, he gets extra for the conferences he attends either in India or abroad. He is also examiner and is earning huge amount on that account. His monthly earnings, in any case, are to the tune of Rs. 50,000/-. In addition to this, he is having shares in several companies to the tune of Rs. 20 lacs. Earlier, some of the shares were in their joint name but he got the shares transferred to his exclusive name. Earlier, they had joint account in Ca-nara Bank, Sector 17, Chandigarh, Punjab National Bank, Sector 17, Chandigarh and State Bank of India, PGI, Chandigarh. He closed the joint accounts and after withdrawing the entire amount opened new accounts in his individual name in several banks. He is also card holder of the City Bank. He is having HIG, PGI Society Flat in Sector 21, Panchkula. He has paid instalments so far as that flat is concerned. Flat is in their joint name. He also owns 3 acres of agricultural land in Andhra Pradesh. On all counts, his income is no less than Rs. 2 lac per month. She does not possess any movable or immovable property. Some land has been gifted to her by her father, but she is not getting any income from that property. She has got no other source of income. She cannot maintain herself with the meagre salary she is getting. She cannot defend herself in Ihese proceedings.

2. Husband opposed her prayer. It was urged that she was getting Rs. 17,030/- per month. His carry home salary is Rs. 23.996/- per month. Whatever shares are, they are in their joint names. They are lying intact. Joint accounts have not been closed. It was denied that he is owning any HIG, PGI Society Flat. It was denied that he has any landed property. It was denied that his income is Rs. 2 lacs per month. He has to maintain his aged parents. He has to pay them about Rs. 2,000/- per month. He is maintaining his son, who is in the college. He has to spend about Rs. 5,000-6,000/- per month on his education and on providing him other facilities. Recently, he got computer at a cost of Rs. 45,000/- for his son so as to help him in his studies. He is living in two kanals house allotted to him by PGI, in Chandigarh.

3. Vide order dated 21.8.2000, Additional District Judge, Chandigarh dismissed the wife's application filed under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Wife has come up in revision to this Court against this order.

4. I have heard learned Counsel for the parties.

5. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted thai the husband is quite affluent in as such as the gross salary of a professor is Rs. 47.240/- per month i.e. Rs. 22,400/- basic pay + Rs. 6,000/- non-practising allowance + Rs. 10,360/- additional dearness allowance + Rs. 2,500/- research pursuit allowance + Rs. 120/-C.C.A. + Rs. 1,000/- risk allowance + Rs. 3,360/-training allowance + Rs. 400/- transport allowance and Rs. 1,500/- special pay. In support of his contention, he drew my attention to the sworn affidavit of the wife in respect of the salary of a professor of the PGI. He submitted that earlier he was residing in two canal house in Sector 24, Chandigarh. Now he is residing in House No. 76, Sector 24, Chandigarh which is measuring 4 Kanals. He submitted that he is enjoying all types of modern facilities such as air conditioners etc. while she is not having any such facilities. It was submitted that she moves on foot while he is enjoying moving about in a car. It was submitted that wife has to enjoy the same status as the husband if she is living with the husband. It was submitted that in this case, the husband is living in luxury white the wife is living the life of a commoner in a room in the Working Women's Hostel, PGI Campus, Chandigarh enjoying no modern facilities.

6. Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, submitted that in September, 2000, the husband got Rs. 23,063/- net. His gross salary was Rs. 36,485/-i.e. Rs. 19,400/- basic pay + Rs. 9,215/- D.A. + Rs. 120/- CCA + Rs. 2,500/- C.R. Allowance + Rs. 4,850/-NPA and Rs. 400/- Transport Allowance. Out of the goods salary, Rs. 13.422/- were deducted towards provident fund, income tax deduction, car advance etc. Rs. 5,000/- is his contribution towards provident fund (which is his own saving). It was further submitted that the son is with him. He is studying in college. He has to spend Rs. 5,000/- per month on his education etc. Tt was submitted that he has to maintain his aged parents as well. It was further submitted that the wife was earning Rs. 18,938/- per month in October, 2000. Out of which a sum of Rs. 1,000/- was deducted as income tax and she got Rs. 17,868/- cash. It was further submitted that she has got Rs. 4 lacs in her PPF account. It was submitted that section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act has made provision for award of maintenance pendente file and the expenses of proceedings to the wife or husband, as the case may be, if she or he, has no independent source of income for her or his support. Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act reads as under :-

'24. Maintenance pendente lite and expenses of proceedings. - Where in any proceeding under this Act it appears to the court that either the wife or the husband, as the case may be, has no independent income sufficient for her or his support and the necessary expenses of the proceeding, it may, on the application of the wife or the husband, order the respondent to pay to the petitioner the expenses of the proceeding, and monthly during the proceeding such sum as, haying regard to the petitioner's own income and the income of the respondent, it may seem to the court to be reasonable.'

7. It was submitted by the learned Counsel for the respondent that the object of section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act is not to make the wife or husband luxurious. If they have independent income of their own sufficient enough to support them and to incur the expenses required for prosecuting or defending the proceedings under the Hindu Marriage Act, this provision cannot be resorted to. It was submitted that in this case, the wife is not starving. She is quite comfortable, as she is in receipt of Rs. 17,868/- net, apart from that, she has got Rs. 4 lacs in her PPF account. It was submitted that she is a solitary soul, she is to maintain only herself with Rs. 17,868/-. It was submitted that it is not believable that the wife is not able to keep herself in comfort when she is receiving Rs. 17,868/- net and is putting up in working Women's Hostel PGI Campus, Chandigarh. In Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, meaning of word 'support' is 'to bear the weight of : to hold up; to endure : to sustain; to maintain; to keep going; to corroborate; to make good; to uphold; to back up; to second; to contend for; to represent in acting; to supply with means of living'. It was submilted that if the wife or husband, as case may be, can sustain herself or himself with her/his means, she or he cannot resort to the provisions of Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act. In Des Raj v. Smt. Sudar-shan Kumari, 1992(2) H.L.R. 567, it was held that de-duction from salary towards G.P.F. and insurance are savings and not expenditure. In Mrs. Gurveen Kaur v. Ranjit Singh Sandhu, 1990(1) (sic) 6 72, the learned Single Judge of this court held that intention of the legislature was not that she or he should be penniless so as to ask for maintenance. Wife is required to be maintained in the same standard of living which her husband or both the parties have been living even if the wife's earning are far less vis-a-vis the earnings of the husband or no earnings at all.

8. Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the wife is working as Assistant Blood Transfusion Officer in the department of Blood Bank, PGI, Chandigarh. Her salary is quite adequate. With the salary, she is getting, she is maintaining herself quite comfortably. As such she does not require any maintenance pendente lile. It was further submitted that she can comfortably spare some amount for depending this petition for divorce. It is not a case where the wife is not provided for at all that she requires maintenance pendente lile to maintain herself and some money for defending this petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act instituted against her by her husband. It was submitted that the object of Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act is not to bring about financial equality between the spouses. Its object is not to slash some amount from the earnings of the husband and hand it over to the wife so that financial disparities between the two are removed. Its object is only to provide means to the spouse who has no independent source of income to contest the matrimonial proceedings. In Bhanwar Lal v. Kamta Devi, 1986 HLR 235 Hon'ble Rajasthan High Court held that the object of Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 is to provide means to a spouse who has no independent source of income to contest a matrimonial proceeding. Indigent spouse is required to be allowed maintenance pendente lile and litigation expenses against the other spouse.

9. Reiterating his submission, learned Counsel for the respondent submitted that Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 would come in if either the wife or the husband, as the case may be, has no independent income sufficient for her or his support and to incurex-penses of the proceedings and the use of the word 'support' in Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 suggests that the intention of the legislature was that the spouse applying for maintenance pendente lite or the expenses of proceedings under this section should be taken care of only if he or she is unable to maintain herself and to incur the expenses required for prosecuting or defending the proceedings under the Act.

10. To my mind, the word 'support' should not be so narrowly interpreted. The word 'support' does not mean bare existence. It means that the spouse should be in so much comfort as the other spouse is in. Section 24 cannot, of course, be intended to bring about arithmetical equality between the two.

11. Husband is keeping the child of the marriage who is fairly grown up and is studying in the college. He has to spend money on maintaining the child and on his education.

12. Keeping all the circumstances in view, I feel it is not a case where the wife should not be provided any maintenance pendents lite at all if some maintenance pendente lite is providing to her that will enable her to feel more comfortable. Wife is allowed Rs. 2,0007-per month as maintenance pendente lite payable with effect from the date she made application Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 before the learned trial Court. She is allowed Rs. 5,000/- as the expenses of proceedings.

Revision partly allowed. No order as to costs so far as this revision is concerned.


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