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CHATURBHUJ V. SITA BAI

Chaturbhuj v. Sita Bai, (2008) 2 SCC 316

ISSUE:

  • Whether Sita Bai’s income was sufficient for her to sustain herself and consequently, whether Chaturbhuj would have to pay her maintenance?

RULE:

  • The burden is on a wife to show that the means of her husband are sufficient. In the present case, this is undisputed.
  • Whether a deserted wife is unable to maintain herself has to be decided by the material placed on record before the court.

FACTS:

  • Chaturbhuj and Sita Bai married around forty years ago. Subsequently, they lived separately for more than twenty years.
  • Sita Bai claimed that she was unemployed and thus, unable to maintain herself.
  • Chaturbhuj was receiving 8,000 rupees as pension and a similar amount as rent, he was also lending money to people on interest.
  • Chaturbhuj claimed that Sita Bai was living in a house constructed by him which she had since sold and received the proceeds of the sale. Further, he had purchased land in her name which she was renting out.
  • It was contended that Chaturbhuj did not need to pay maintenance as Sita Bai had money from the sale of agricultural land and rent.
  • The case was heard in a trial Court, Revisional Court and High Court before being appealed to the Supreme Court.

HELD:

  • The Supreme Court held that though Chaturbhuj had placed evidence that Sita Bai had some income, it was not sufficient to rule out Section 125 of the CrPC. It was to be established that the income was enough to sustain the wife.
  • The court further ruled that in cases where the income of the wife is insufficient, she can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC. The wife should be able to maintain herself in the way she used to when with her husband.
  • The court held that Sita Bai was unable to maintain herself solely with her income and was, thus, entitled to maintenance from Chaturbhuj.