Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bombay HC stands by woman’s maintenance right

In a significant order, the Bombay high court has held that a woman’s right to maintenance cannot be done away with even if she had had specifically waived off such a right in an earlier agreement with her husband. In the judgement pronounced recently, Justice MS Sonak said, “There are several rulings, which take the view that an agreement, in which the wife gives up or relinquishes her right to claim maintenance at any time in the future, is opposed to public policy and, therefore, such an agreement, even if voluntarily entered, is not enforceable.” The HC in its judgment cited observations of another such ruling which said that the statutory right of a wife for maintenance cannot be bartered, done away with or negatived by the husband by setting up an agreement to the contrary.
In the judgment, the HC dismissed the writ petition submitted by man who said that his former wife’s application seeking maintenance be dismissed since she had specifically waived her right to it in the consent terms for divorce. The woman had moved the maintenance plea before a magistrate court in 2010. The man sought a dismissal of the plea and cited the consent terms.On October 13, 2011, the court rejected the man’s application. He then challenged it before a sessions court which too rejected his plea. In 2016, the man submitted write petition before the HC.
The HC has also directed the magistrate to dispose of the woman’s application for maintenance in accordance with law and on its own merits. The court said that it was to be decided as expeditiously as possible and, in any case, within a year.
The woman had earlier told the HC that in 2009 she had filed the divorce petition. It was further stated that the court referred the couple for mediation where they reached a compromise on October 27, 2010.

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