In what can be termed as a bold and revolutionary decision, the Calcutta High Court has maintained that a woman, who is not only earning, but also has adequate financial resources, has no right to claim for maintenance after divorce from her husband.
While hearing the case of a woman, who had claimed interim maintenance from her husband, the Calcutta High Court bench had made this observation. Justice Biswajit Basu said, “…The woman’s salary was not less than Rs 74,000 per month, which is sufficient for her support, particularly when she herself assessed her requirement (in the interim maintenance plea) at Rs 50,000 per month.”
The woman had filed an appeal against the order of the lower court in the Calcutta High Court. She had initially filed a divorce application on the grounds of cruelty, claiming maintenance of Rs. 50,000 per month for herself. The lower court had refused to grant her interim maintenance, making an identical observation. Instead, they asked the husband to pay Rs. 30,000 as the litigation costs to his estranged wife, against which the woman filed an appeal in the Calcutta High Court.
When she appeared in the High Court, she stressed in her plea that she needs to maintain herself upto a certain standard. To quote an extract from her appeal, “as per the status of her estranged husband, she claimed she needs a sum of Rs 50,000 per month under following heads: Rs 10,000 as household maintenance and utilities; Rs 4,000 as pocket allowance; Rs 22,000 for goods, groceries, clothes and daily needs; and Rs 14,000 in legal expenses.” However, the bench would hear none of it and dismissed the appeal.
It is rare for a court to rule in the favor of men, especially in modern circumstances. But in their observation, the present bench of the Calcutta High Court has rightfully suggested that ‘Men can be victims too’. Just as it is not right to ignore the plight of an oppressed woman, it is not right to continuously shame a man for no fault of his. Forget ordinary men, even celebrities like Hrithik Roshan were not spared, who had to pay a staggering Rs. 400 crores as alimony to his wife, Suzzanne Khan after divorce. Is anybody entitled to free money just on account of their gender?
Moreover, the untold discrimination against men is just not limited to the subject of alimony. When the MeToo controversy took the nation by storm, many people, especially the likes of Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl, Subhash Ghai etc. were accused of sexual misconduct as well.
Without looking into the details of the case, on the basis of the testimonies of the ‘victims’ alone, the mainstream media declared them guilty without trial. Later, when Nana Patekar and Vikas Bahl were declared innocent, the same people were nowhere to be seen. Can the reputation of such people, damaged by smear allegations, be brought back?
As such, the decision taken by the Calcutta High Court is not only a welcome one but also another step in the right direction after the much-touted amendment in Section 498 A of the IPC, which gave a huge relief to men harassed by false complaints under the anti-dowry provisions of the IPC. We hope that the judiciary continues to take such steps which take the Indian society as a whole forward.