The Supreme Court has directed in its recent hearing over maintenance that a husband should pay 25% of his net salary to his former wife and set 25% as 'just and proper' amount as alimony.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and M M Santanagoudar set the bench mark while directing a resident of West Bengal's Hoogly, earning Rs 95,527 a month, to set aside Rs 20,000 as maintenance for his former wife and their son, turning down the man's plea that the amount was excessive. The court said the amount of maintenance or permanent alimony should be enough to ensure that a woman live with dignity after separating from her husband.
The order came after a man challenged a Calcutta high court order directing him to pay her Rs 23,000 per month. Though the apex court said there was nothing amiss in the high court order, it reduced the amount by Rs 3,000 on the ground that the man had remarried and hence needed to provide for his new family.
"Twenty-five per cent of the husband's net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the (former) wife. The amount of permanent alimony awarded to her must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, which is always dependant on the factual situation of the case... and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors," the bench said.
The couple was fighting a legal battle over maintenance since 2003 when the district judge fixed the amount at Rs 4,500. The high court, however, awarded Rs 16,000 per month in 2015 and increased the amount to Rs 23,000 in 2016 as the husband's salary went up from Rs 63,842 to Rs 95,527.