New Delhi, Feb. 3: Geeta J. Mangtani doesn’t want divorce. She doesn’t want alimony. Instead, the schoolteacher from Gujarat is willing to maintain her husband to keep their family going.
Mangtani’s husband is earning only Rs 1,400 from a private job in Mumbai while she makes between Rs 8,000 and 10,000 as a government schoolteacher in Gandhidham. Given the high cost of living in Mumbai, Mangtani has offered to maintain the family, including their nine-year-old son, and make the “matrimonial home” in Gujarat instead of going to the metropolis and living with her husband in poverty.
However, her husband wants her to give up her job and live with him at the “matrimonial home”, which is conventionally taken to be the place where the man lives.
In her petition, Mangtani has sought a direction from the Supreme Court to her husband to take up her offer as she is earning about five to seven times more than him.
A division bench of Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice H.K. Sema admitted her petition, which will come up for hearing after eight weeks.
Geeta’s counsel A.H. Raichura argues that the word “matrimonial home” is not defined in the Hindu Marriage Act.
“Therefore, it could be the place where the wife lives also, and especially when the wife is earning more and the husband doesn’t have sufficient income to maintain the wife, she can refuse to go to the husband’s house and such refusal could not be a ground for grant of divorce,” Raichura said.
The trial court had agreed that Mangtani did not leave her husband without reasonable grounds and declined to grant divorce. However, on appeal, the high court reversed the order and granted divorce on the husband’s petition. Mangtani has now approached the apex court by filing a special leave petition.
Mangtani’s stand is that she cannot leave her son in the lurch and has to secure a good future for him. Since her husband’s income is much less than hers, it is proper and reasonable to invite him to join her and make the “matrimonial home” in Gujarat.