'Woman falsely accused of infidelity can claim maintenance'

Madurai: Holding that character assassination amounted to cruelty, Madras High Court Bench here has ruled a woman living separately after being accused of infidelity by her husband without evidence cannot be denied maintenance.

"Character assassination amounted to cruelty. A woman living separately, after being accused of having illegal intimacy with neighbours, cannot be denied maintenance stating that such a separation was on her own accord and not instigated by her husband," the court said.

Justice T.Sudanthiram said in his order yesterday that levelling baseless charges of immoral conduct itself was a sufficient reason to direct a person to pay maintenance charges to his estranged wife even if he had denied allegations of illtreatment, abuse and assault.

He was allowing a criminal revision petition by a woman of Theni District against a lower court vedict dismissing her claim for maintenance.

The petitioner submitted her wedding was held in 1981 and they had four children. Her husband used to beat her up and illtreat the children. He also suspected her fidelity, she said.

Unable to bear the torture, she moved to her mother's place in 2006 and claimed maintenance.

Justice Sudanthiram said when the woman was accused by her husband of having illegal intimacy with neighbours, the lower court ought not to have dismissed her maintenance application.

Taking into consideration that the petitioner earned Rs 1,400 by working as housemaid and sweeper, the Judge ordered she and her fourth daughter, residing with her, were entitled to Rs.1,000 and Rs.1,500 respectively per month.