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Upkeep of wife sacred duty: SC

New Delhi, July 16: The Supreme Court has ruled that it is a husband’s “sacrosanct duty” to support his estranged wife financially and asked family courts to deal firmly with those who adopt delaying tactics to avoid paying maintenance.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and V. Gopala Gowda passed the judgment yesterday while taking exception to an estranged woman’s nine-year wait for monthly maintenance.

“This delay in adjudication by the family court is not only against human rights but also against the basic embodiment of dignity of an individual,” the bench said, adding that in such proceedings, a husband cannot resort to “subterfuges to deprive” his estranged wife of the benefit of “living with dignity”.

The court said the “solemn pledge at the time of marriage” and the statutory law that governs the field make it an “obligation” for a man to see that his wife “does not become a destitute (or) a beggar”.

“In fact, it is the sacrosanct duty to render the financial support even if the husband is required to earn money with physical labour, if he is able-bodied,” Justice Misra, writing the judgment, said.

The bench dismissed an appeal filed by a husband against a Rajasthan High Court order directing him to pay Rs 4,000 as monthly maintenance to his estranged wife and their child.