Restitution of Conjugal Rights and Maintenance: A Legal Analysis

The issue of “restitution of conjugal rights and maintenance” in marital discord cases was recently deliberated upon by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in MISC. PETITION No. 5515 of 2022. The case involved Ajay Bansal and Smt. Rani, a married couple facing challenges in their relationship. The court had to determine whether Smt. Rani was entitled to maintenance despite not complying with the decree of restitution of conjugal rights passed in favor of her husband, Ajay Bansal.

Background of the Case

Ajay Bansal, a 26-year-old driver from Madhya Pradesh, filed a petition to challenge the order passed by the District Judge, Sagar. The order awarded maintenance of Rs. 3,000 per month and litigation charges of Rs. 4,000 to his wife, Smt. Rani, aged 22. Ajay argued that Smt. Rani’s refusal to join his company after the decree should disentitle her to any maintenance.

Wife's Arguments

Smt. Rani, represented by Shri Shyam Yadav, argued that she faced continuous cruelty and harassment from her husband, leading to her decision to stay away from him. Despite the decree of restitution of conjugal rights, she asserted that she should not be deprived of maintenance under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

Image of a law book, scales of justice and judge hammer. Text overlay says "Restitution of Conjugal Rights and Maintenance"

Husband's Arguments

Ajay Bansal, through his counsel Shri Ankur Shrivastava, relied on the judgment in Smt. Kiran Vs. Chandra Shekar, which held that the grant of maintenance during legal proceedings is at the court’s discretion. The husband contended that refusing maintenance to the wife due to the operating decree of restitution of conjugal rights was a valid approach.

Court's Considerations

The court cited the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order in Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No(s). 8994/2019, Subrat Kumar Sen Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Anr., where it noticed conflicting decisions among High Courts regarding the impact of a wife staying away from her husband without sufficient reason despite an order under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. The court directed the petitioner to pay maintenance to the wife. The court held that the present case faces a similar situation.

Court's Decision

In the context of “restitution of conjugal rights and maintenance,” the court found no material indicating that Smt. Rani had sufficient means or independent income for her sustenance. As a result, the court upheld the lower court’s decision to award her maintenance, dismissing the petition filed by Ajay Bansal.

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