Monday, October 27, 2014

HC relief for deserted wife of GEB staffer

Prashant Mali, an employee of the state's electricity company in Vadodara, faces a pay cut of a different kind. The Gujarat high court has ordered that a certain amount be deducted from his salary and given to his wife and minor daughter whom he has refused to look after for nearly a decade.

According to case details, Mali deserted his wife, Priya, and little daughter, Sakshi, in 2005. Since then, Priya has lived at her maternal home. To look after her daughter, she became a salesgirl for a salary of Rs 1,500. However, she was unable to maintain herself and her daughter on such a measly amount. She then moved the Vadodara family court and sought Rs 800 as maintenance for Sakshi, and Rs 1,200 for herself.

In his defence, Mali argued that he did not have a stable job while his wife was earning. In 2011, the family court ordered Mali to pay Rs 800 per month towards maintenance of his daughter but refused to order any payment for his wife on the ground that she was a working woman.

Priya moved the high court last year and questioned the order passed by the family court. The high court criticized the family court for not taking into consideration the poverty of the woman and the hardship she faced in bringing up her little daughter.

"Unfortunately, the family court failed to appreciate the evidence with reference to the wife when there are several allegations against the husband regarding ill-treatment, desertion and failure to maintain them for a couple of years," the high court observed.

The HC also pulled up the family court for not paying attention to the divorce claimed by the husband, when the evidence suggested that the signature of the wife obtained on the divorce document was taken by force. The high court also took into consideration the changed circumstances when Mali got a job with the Electricity Company after his father's death. He was then earning more than Rs 12,000 as salary.

The high court further noted that Mali had not paid any money to his wife and daughter despite the court's order. The arrears were of Rs 1,38,000. Finally, the HC asked Mali's employerthe GEB to directly credit the maintenance amount to the wife's account first Rs 4,000 till the arrears were paid and then Rs 2,000 every month. This included Rs 1,200 towards maintenance for the wife too.

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