Calcutta HC Upholds Right of First Wife to Maintenance, Rejects Order on Reduced Allowance

Rozana Spokesman

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Calcutta HC Asserts Women's Right to Maintenance in Marital Relationships: Landmark Ruling Upholds First Wife's Entitlement

Calcutta HC

KOLKATA: In a landmark ruling, the Calcutta High Court has reinforced the right of a woman to be cared for by her husband, especially if she has spent years in a marital relationship. The Court made this significant pronouncement while hearing a petition related to maintenance and alimony filed by the first wife. The judgment also involved the rejection of an earlier order that had reduced the maintenance allowance granted to the wife.

During the hearing on Monday, the High Court emphasized that a man who chooses to marry for the second time, under personal law, is legally bound to provide for his first wife, particularly if she has cohabited with him for a substantial period. The ruling was made in accordance with the guidelines set by the Supreme Court, aiming to safeguard the interests of women in such cases.

The petitioner, the first wife in this instance, sought maintenance from her husband after facing hardships in her marital life. According to her claims, the couple got married in 2003 following Muslim customs, but over time, she was subjected to dowry harassment and eventually expelled from her matrimonial home in 2012.

In response to the petitioner's plea, Justice Shampa Dutt (Pal), presiding over the case, not only upheld the woman's right to maintenance but also dismissed the order of the Additional Sessions Court, which had previously reduced the maintenance allowance from Rs. 6000 to Rs. 4000. Justice Dutt held that a woman who has devoted nine years to a marriage deserves to be supported by her husband, as long as she is in need of such support.

The petitioner highlighted her dire circumstances at the time of eviction, revealing that she was left jobless and homeless. Allegedly, her husband had remarried after the separation and had not provided any maintenance during the difficult phase.

The case had previously seen a judgment in 2016, where the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Malda ordered the husband to pay Rs. 6,000 per month as maintenance to the petitioner. However, the husband appealed this decision in 2019, leading to the reduction of the amount to Rs. 4000 by the session court. The basis for this reduction was stated as the husband's claimed insufficient income.

With the High Court's latest ruling, the rights of women in marital relationships are reaffirmed, offering protection and support to those who have devoted their time and effort to their families. The judgment sets a precedent for recognizing the rights of first wives in situations involving subsequent marriages by their husbands.