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Unwillingness to maintain wife is economic abuse: Court


New Delhi, Feb 8:A man cannot refuse maintenance to his estranged wife having no source of income as that amounts to economic abuse, a Delhi court has held.

Setting aside a trial court order dismissing the plea of a woman seeking maintenance from her estranged husband, Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala observed that in the absence of any evidence, it cannot be said that no case of domestic violence was established.

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"The admitted facts are sufficient to show that appellant (wife) had no source to maintain herself, though the respondent (husband) was having sufficient means to live a comfortable life. He, therefore, cannot refuse to maintain his wife.

"His pleadings also show that he was not willing and interested to maintain the appellant, which in itself is sufficient to show that he has caused economic abuse upon the appellant," the court said.

It said that the trial court had overlooked the complete definition of domestic violence and the admissions in the pleadings of the respondent to conclude that since the woman did not lead any evidence to prove her allegations, therefore, her allegations remained bald averments.

The court also held that there exist domestic relations between the man and the woman who had entered into wedlock 35 years ago, have three children out of the said marriage and were living in the same house though on different floors.

"The existence of domestic relationship is dependent upon subsistence of marriage between the parties and upon the fact that they had lived together in a shared household and at present, they are living in the same house, though on different floors. Therefore, I do find existence of domestic relationship between them," it said.

While noting that due to the dispute existing between the parties, the woman needs protection order, the court remanded back the matter to the trial court to decide the modalities for her protection as per law and the amount of maintenance.

"The appellant would be entitled to maintenance order as well as for protection order against her dispossession from 1st floor of property and from disconnection of electricity connection," the court said.

The woman, a Delhi resident, had filed a complaint seeking maintenance from her husband claiming herself to be without any source of income and alleging cruelty and desertion by him.


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