DELHI HIGH COURT MODIFIES GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING MAINTENANCE AMOUNT IN MATRIMONIAL DISPUTE CASES
The Delhi High Court has in the recent case of Kusum Sharma vs Mahinder Kumar Sharma passed a Judgment dated 06-08-2020 and modified the guidelines to be considered for fixing the amount of #maintenance in #matrimonialdispute matters.
The Delhi High Court has observed that maintenance is a basic #humanright in cases of matrimonial litigations. Under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1972 (#CrPC), the purpose of granting maintenance in cases of breakdown of #marriage is to ensure that a party is not deprived of living a life with dignity and with access to basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.
Further, Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 (the Act) empowers a court to award maintenance and litigation expenses during the pendency of the matrimonial proceeding based on the financial and social status of the parties. Especially, where the wife and children are completely dependent upon the income of the husband, it becomes reasonable to grant interim maintenance to the deserted wife to support the pending matrimonial #litigation proceedings and immediate financial needs, until a permanent relief is granted. Section 25 of the Act empowers the court to award permanent #alimony and maintenance to the applicant based on certain factors such as income, lifestyle, standard of living, etc.
The Delhi High Court in this case has modified and laid down the following guidelines for determining the amount of interim maintenance and permanent alimony in a matrimonial litigation (the Guidelines):
1- A detailed affidavit of assets and liabilities, income and expenditure, as declared by both parties under Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. In the said affidavit, the parties have to simultaneously submit comprehensive details about their personal and professional lives, standard of living and lifestyle, owned and/or inherited financial and immovable assets, liabilities owed, independent income and regular expenditure, schooling and education details of their children, whether the claimant has no or insufficient independent income to support the same lifestyle as it was before the matrimonial discord, etc.
A copy of the Format of Affidavit of Assets, Income and Expenditure issued by the Delhi High Court in this case is attached below:
2- Generally, the lifestyle of a person is understood from the number of domestic helps that they have and their wages, their usual mode of travel, their number of stays at a hotel, category of such hotels, frequency of foreign travel, branded accessories, etc.
3- But in case the requisite information from the parties is not provided properly or genuinely, then the court may appoint a local commissioner under Order 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1906 (CPC) to visit the place of residence or business of the parties to know the standard of living and social status of the parties.
Thus, based on the aforesaid Guidelines, the court may award maintenance and alimony in all matrimonial cases under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, Special Marriage Act, 1954, Hindu Marriage Act 1955, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, Section 125 CrPC, and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The Delhi High Court has further listed the matter on 18-12-2020 for hearing the feedback and comments of the #FamilyCourts after implementation of the aforesaid Guidelines.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer