Court sets aside ex-parte alimony order to professor



New Delhi: A magisterial court's ex-parte order to a 47-year-old Indian professor of a European university to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 1.5 lakh to his estranged wife has been set aside by a sessions court here.

Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Jain set aside the magisterial court's order on plea by Professor Shahnawaz, the director of South and South East Asian Wing of UNIGIS International of Salzburg University of Austria, that he had received no summons form the magisterial court.

Allowing the professor's appeal, ASJ Jain remanded the matter back to the magisterial court for fresh consideration.

"On consideration of entire facts and circumstances as discussed, the impugned ex-parte order of granting maintenance to the respondent wife is set aside and matter is remanded back to the trial court for fresh consideration...," said the court and asked both the professor and his wife to appear before the trial court on August 16.

In an ex-parte order on October 7, 2011, the magisterial court had asked the professor to pay his 39-year-old, estranged wife, based here, a monthly alimony of Rs 1.5 lakh.

In his appeal, the professor said he did not get the summons because he was not in Austria, but was on a tour of south east Asia and substantiated his claim with entries on his passport. He also added that there was no order of the trial court to serve him summons through emails.

The session court gave its order, brushing aside the objection by the woman's counsel that there was nothing on record which shows that summons were not served to him.

The trial court while granting maintenance to the woman had said as per European standard, the man's estimated salary reflected on the website of European University Institute was about 76,850 Euros per year which would be approximately over Rs 50 lakh per annum.

Shahnawaz, working as a professor in Austria for past 11 years, had not contested his wife's plea for maintenance and the court had proceeded to award alimony to his wife ex-parte.

"Since Shahnawaz has not appeared to contest the case, therefore, he is deemed to have accepted the allegations levelled by the complainant. Prima facie, a case of domestic violence is made out against him," the court had said.

Shahnawaz's estranged wife, in her complaint, had told the court that she got married to him in December 2008 as per Muslim rituals and begun living with him in Vienna.

She alleged after a few months of their marriage, her husband created such a situation that she had to leave the house and she could not work there as her plea for working visa was pending and returned to India.

She said she had not approached the court earlier for maintenance as she had been trying to make her marriage work, but she "now feels unwelcome in his life and it is his duty to maintain her."

While setting aside the magisterial court's order, the sessions court also concurred with the professor's submission in his appeal that while his estranged wife had demanded only Rs 52,000 as monthly alimony, the court had gone on to award her a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh on its own.

"It is impermissible for the court to grant the relief beyond prayer without any justifiable reasons. Trial court has not mentioned any reason why it is granting relief more than the claimed maintenance of Rs 52,500/ per month, it appears that trial court could not notice that respondent has claimed only Rs 52,500. Therefore, order granting maintenance to the tune of Rs. 1.5 lakhs to the respondent is illegal and liable to be set aside," the judge said.

PTI