Mumbai: Holding that a wife is entitled to interim maintenance during a divorce proceeding, the Bombay High Court has ordered an Indian-origin Nigerian businessman to pay his Dubai-based spouse Rs 25,000 every month and also pay expenses incurred for travelling to Mumbai for the case.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah also recently ordered the husband to pay Rs 25,000 per month to the couple`s child for his maintenance and bear expenses for the kid`s education.
The Bench was hearing an appeal filed by Hannah Bakshani against the Family Court order dismissing her plea for interim maintenance and also against the order of a single bench of the High Court which had refused similar relief.
"We are shocked to find that the Family Court has not passed any order for giving travelling expenses to the wife who is the respondent in the divorce petition. We, therefore, direct that the husband shall deposit in the Family Court Rs 1 lakh whenever the appellant is required to visit India," the court said.
The husband, Deepak Bakshani, who has his business in Nigeria, had filed for divorce in Family Court here. During the pendency of the case, his wife, based in Dubai, filed a petition for interim maintenance for herself and then minor son. She also sought travelling expenses from Dubai to Mumbai to attend court hearings.
The Family Court dismissed the claim for maintenance for the son on the ground that he attained majority during pendency of the application for interim maintenance.
At the same time, the Family Court pointed out that the appellant, as mother, has been taking good care of her son even though no amount has been awarded for his maintenance.
Even the single Judge of the HC observed that the maintenance for the period prior to the son attaining majority can be taken care of at the time of trial.
However, the Division Bench, hearing the appeal filed
by the wife, held "when the appellant-wife has already been taking care of the son, there is no reason to deny her maintenance for the son.
"Even after attaining majority, the son obviously continues to study and therefore, the respondent will have to pay for his education.
"We therefore direct the respondent-husband to pay the appellant-son a monthly sum of Rs 25,000 (along with arrears)," the Judges held.
"As far as the interim maintenance for appellant-wife is concerned, the Family Court as well as the Single Judge (of the HC) have rejected the claim on the ground the appellant is working as a commission agent for an estate agent company and that she has some luxurious accessories," the Bench noted.
"Both Courts have prima facie not taken into account the fact that the Court, while awarding maintenance, has to take into consideration the lifestyle of the husband also."
The wife`s case was that the husband has several properties in India and abroad, including in Nigeria and owns 12 cars. "Even if that claim is considered as exaggerated, it cannot be denied that the wife is entitled for maintenance, specially when the husband has filed petition for divorce," it ruled.
Another ground given by Family Court for not giving interim maintenance is because the visa charges for Dubai are 4,000 Dirhams and hence the wife must be earning sufficiently. However, the case of the appellant was that visa charges were paid for by the husband.
The Judges held "without expressing any opinion on the merits of the controversy which will be decided at the final hearing of this appeal, we direct respondent to pay the appellant-wife Rs 25,000 on the 10th day of every month."
The arrears shall be deposited with the Family Court by December 31 and the respondent shall continue to pay interim maintenance at the aforesaid rate till final disposal of the appeal.
As and when the amounts are deposited, the appellant shall be permitted to withdraw the amount of maintenance for herself and also for the son, the Bench said.