Madurai: Maintenance could not be denied to a woman from her estranged husband on the ground that she is educated and has potential to get employment, the Madras High Court here ruled on Friday.
Setting aside a judicial magistrate court order against denial of maintenance to a woman, Justice S Vimala of the Madurai bench said in her order, "Ability to maintain oneself and capability to earn" are two different things and court could not refuse maintenance because the wife was educated and was earning well earlier.
The judge passed the order on a criminal revision petition filed by Gomathi, who sought a direction to her estranged husband to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 10,000. A Judicial Magistrate Court had dismissed her plea on April 30.
The judge did not agree with the view of the Magistrate that Gomathi, an M.Com, could get employment and earn money to maintain herself and hence she was not eligible to claim maintenance.
The judge pointed out that the law, as it stood at present, does not prevent a woman from seeking maintenance from her husband because she was educationally well qualified.
Women should ensure safe and secured environment for their children to grow and flourish. At least until the growth of the child to a certain age, she would prefer to take care of the child than going for employment, the judge said.
"In other words, women prefer growth of the family than individual growth. Therefore, her ability to maintain herself could not be equated to her capability to earn", the judge said.
"If there is appreciable improvement in the financial status of women in the future and they are provided with equality of opportunity and responsibility (including domestic work), then it is for the legislature to consider changes in the legal provisions. Till such time, the law as it stands today does not permit this court to hold that a wife can be deprived of maintenance just because she is educated," the judge said.