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Deserted wives, children entitled to alimony from date of application: Supreme Court

Apex court lays down guidelines for matrimonial cases.

The Supreme Court on November 4 held that deserted wives and children are entitled to alimony/maintenance from the husbands from the date they apply for it in a court of law.

In a significant judgment by a Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, the top court said women deserted by husbands were left in dire straits, often reduced to destitution, for lack of means to sustain themselves and their children.

The 67-page judgment by Justice Malhotra laid down uniform and comprehensive guidelines for family courts, magistrates and lower courts to follow while hearing the applications filed by women seeking maintenance from their estranged husbands.

The court said despite a plethora of maintenance laws, women were left empty-handed for years, struggling to make ends meet after a bad marriage.

Deprived of sustenance

“The view that maintenance ought to be granted from the date when the application was made is based on the rationale that the primary object of maintenance laws is to protect a deserted wife and dependent children from destitution and vagrancy. If maintenance is not paid from the date of application, the party seeking maintenance would be deprived of sustenance, owing to the time taken for disposal of the application, which often runs into several years,” Justice Malhotra…

Krishnadas Rajagopal

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