Supreme Court sets alimony amount, says 25% of ex-husband's net salary “just and proper”

The Supreme Court has said 25% of husband's net salary is appropriate to be paid as alimony to the estranged wife.

The top court said the amount is "just and proper" as alimony.

While hearing a case of a West Bengal-based couple, a bench of Justices R Banumathi and M M Santanagoudar directed a resident 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 must be sufficient to ensure that a woman lived with dignity after separating from her husband.

The man had 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.

"A Hindu woman's right to maintenance is a personal obligation so far as the husband is concerned, and it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property. It is well settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties then his wife is entitled to a right to be maintained out of such properties," the apex court had said in a judgment it had delivered in 2016.

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