Occasional adultery does not disentitle wife from maintenance, says Delhi HC

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Occasional or isolated acts of adultery by a wife do not disentitle her from receiving maintenance from her husband, the Delhi high court has ruled.

The bar on paying maintenance will apply only if there is “definite evidence” of continuous and repeated acts of adultery by the wife, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said, while hearing a man’s plea against a trial court order that had directed him to pay his wife Rs 15,000 a month.

The man argued that the direction for payment of maintenance cannot be sustained on several grounds in this case, including cruelty, adultery and desertion by his wife.

However, the HC pointed out that “cruelty and harassment do not stand ground” for non-payment of maintenance, and noted that even in cases where a divorce is granted on the ground of cruelty, courts have awarded permanent alimony.

The HC added that law emanating from various precedents of the Supreme Court and high courts establishes the position of payment of maintenance. On adultery, it opined that the husband in this case did not establish even a prima facie case against the wife and the law required her to be “living in adultery” to bar her from receiving maintenance under section 125 CrPC.

The ground of desertion was also rejected by the court, and the husband’s challenge to the trial court order was subsequently dismissed.

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