New Delhi, August 27
The Delhi High Court on Friday held that an unemployed man cannot be forced to pay maintenance to his estranged wife as, in an era of equality of sexes, a person cannot be compelled to maintain the other if the spouse is on an equal footing.
“Under prevalent laws, a husband is supposed to maintain his unearning spouse out of the income he earns. No law provides that a husband has to maintain his wife, living separately from him, irrespective of the fact whether he earns or not,” Justice S.N. Dhingra said.
The court passed the order while setting aside the order of a family court which had directed the husband, who was unemployed, to pay a maintenance of Rs 5,000 to his wife. The court said the wife, who was equally qualified as her husband and was working in an MNC, cannot ask for maintenance from her husband who lost his job.
“The court cannot tell the husband that he should beg, borrow or steal but give maintenance to his wife, more so when the husband and wife are qualified and capable of earning and both of them claimed to be gainfully employed before marriage,” the court said while granting relief to the husband who was an NRI working in Angola.
“We are living in an era of equality of sexes. The Constitution provides equal treatment to be given irrespective of sex, caste and creed. An unemployed husband who is holding an MBA degree cannot be treated differently to an unemployed wife who is also holding an MBA degree,” the court said. “Since both are on equal footing, one cannot be asked to maintain the other unless one is unemployed and the other is employed,” it said. — IANS
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