The Supreme Court has set a limit on how much alimony a man is to pay his estranged wife, and it should be 25 per cent of his net salary, as Times of India reported.
A Bench of justices R Banumathi and MM Santanagoudar made the observation when directing a man from West Bengal to pay his ex-wife Rs 20,000 out of a monthly salary of Rs 95,527. They turned down his plea that the amount was excessive. The court noted that the amount given as alimony must be sufficient that a woman lives in dignity after separation from her husband.
The order came on the man’s plea challenging an order by the Calcutta High Court, which directed him to pay her Rs 23,000 every month. The apex court said that there was nothing wrong with what the High Court said but reduced the amount by Rs 3,000 taking cognisance of the fact that the man had remarried and would need to provide for his new family.
Twenty-five per cent of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the (former) wife. The amount of permanent alimony awarded to her must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, which is always dependent on the factual situation of the case... and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors.Supreme Court
On reducing the amount by Rs 3,000 the bench said:
However, since the appellant has also got married a second time and has a child from the second marriage, we think it proper to reduce the amount of maintenance of Rs 23,000 to Rs 20,000 per month as maintenance to his (former) wife and son.
The legal battles had been ongoing between the couple since 2003 when a district judge fixed the amount at Rs 4,500. The High Court fixed the amount to Rs 16,000 in 2015 and re-adjusted it to Rs 23,000 in 2016 when the man’s salary went up by almost Rs 22,000.
The apex court’s ruling is in line with its inclination to protect claims of women in matrimonial disputes that take a toll on their financial status.
A Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is a personal obligation so far as the husband is concerned, and it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property... It is well settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties then his wife is entitled to a right to be maintained out of such properties.