Maintenance awarded to an estranged wife is for her survival and should not be seen as a "bounty", and it has to be given from the date of her application, the Delhi High Court has held.
The court order came while dismissing a man's plea challenging a trial court's May 2017 order directing him to pay an interim maintenance of ₹40,000 to his estranged wife from the date of filing of the application -- March 2014.
The plea said the payment should not have been related to the date of the application but to the date of the order by the trial court.
The high court noted in its recent order that the man has not challenged the quantum of maintenance assessed by the trial court.
"The object of grant of maintenance is to afford a subsistence allowance to the wife who is not able to maintain herself...the award normally should be from the date of the application. For the court to award maintenance from the date of the order there have to be compelling circumstances.
"Maintenance awarded to a wife is not a bounty. It is awarded to her so that she can survive. The fact that time is spent between the date of the application and a final adjudication and an award in favour of the wife, does not mean that she had enough funds to maintain herself," Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.
The high court said that when the lower court comes to the conclusion after trial that the wife is entitled to an amount of maintenance, the assessment in fact relates back to the date of the application.
"When the assessment relates back to the date of the application then there has to be compelling circumstances for the trial court to restrict the award of maintenance to a period post the date of the order," it said.
The trial court had awarded ₹40,000 per month interim maintenance to the woman in 2017 on her application under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
The high court added that the man would be entitled to an adjustment of the amount that he has already paid in terms of the order passed in the application under Section 125 (order for maintenance of wives, children and parents) CrPC and the interim orders passed by this court.
Earlier, the trial court had awarded an interim maintenance of Rs 15,000 to the woman on her application under Section 125 CrPC. The man was paying her the amount. Later, she withdrew the application.
The counsel for the man had contended before the high court that the trial court erred in relating back the maintenance to the date of the application and not restricting it to the date of order as the woman was already receiving maintenance of Rs 15,000 under Section 125 CrPC.