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Woman Entitled to Maintenance Under Domestic Violence Act Even After Divorce: Bombay High Court

MUMBAI: A woman is entitled to maintenance under provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) even after divorce, the Bombay High Court has said. A single bench of Justice R G Avachat in the order of January 24 upheld a May 2021 order passed by a sessions court directing the man, a police constable, to pay a maintenance of Rs 6,000 to his divorced wife per month.

The bench in its order noted that the plea raises a question as to whether a divorced wife is entitled to claim maintenance under the DV Act. The high court in its order noted that the definition of the term ‘domestic relationship’ suggests a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time (mostly in the past), lived together in a shared household, when they were related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage.

“The petitioner being husband was under statutory obligation to make provisions of maintenance of his wife. Since he failed to make such provision, the respondent/wife had no option but to file an application under the DV Act,” the court said.

Justice Avachat further said the man was ‘fortunate’ that he was directed to pay only a sum of Rs 6,000 per month when he was in police service and was drawing a salary of more than Rs 25,000 per month.

As per the plea, the man and the woman got married in May 2013 but started living separately from July 2013 due to matrimonial disputes. The couple later got divorced.

During the divorce proceedings, the woman had sought maintenance under the DV Act.

The family court had rejected her application following which she approached the sessions court which in 2021 allowed her plea.

The man in his petition in the HC claimed since there is no marital relationship in existence any more, his wife was not entitled to any relief under the DV Act.

He further said that all arrears of maintenance were cleared by the date of dissolution of marriage.

The woman opposed the plea and said provisions of the DV Act ensure that even a wife, who has been divorced or has obtained a divorce, was entitled to claim relief of maintenance and other ancillary reliefs.

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