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‘Sufficient means to maintain’ refers to the capacity to earn; Insufficient Income cannot be grounded to avoid maintaining dependents; J&K&L High Court reiterates established law

In the case of Shashi Kapoor Singh v Gurmeet Singh and Another, the High Court of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh ratified the order of the Principal Sessions Judge as a Revisional Court, which upheld the maintenance awarded to the wife and child of the petitioner by the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

The petitioner had argued that the exorbitant maintenance of Rs.12000 so awarded was robotically calculated without taking into consideration his liabilities or his income. He also proposed that he would readily care for the expenses of his dependents if they returned to reside with him.

Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul’s bench reiterated the law which was given in the case of Vikram Jamwal v Geetanjali Rajput and Another (2010) that every person is free when, where, and whether to marry, but once he marries and starts to raise a family, he cannot turn his back on the obligations and duties that such a union creates, and is bound to perform all that he is required by law and society.

The court herein observed that ‘sufficient means’, in regards to maintaining dependents such as wife, children, and parents, has been established to refer to include the capacity to earn and henceforth if a person is of able body and mind and with the capacity to earn – he cannot escape the legal duty to maintain his family members, those unable to maintain themselves on the ground that he does not have the income to do so.

And since the petitioner had, on an earlier occasion, refused to take the respondents (his dependents back), they now have sufficient ground to insist on a residence separate from him. 

Hence, the petition was dismissed.

By Vidisha Mathur

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