The Delhi Court has revised it’s guidelines to decide maintenance amount expeditiously in matrimonial cases. The bench has also modified the format of affidavit to declare asset, income and expenditure.
Thursday, the Delhi High Court, single bench of Justice J. R. Midha, has modified the affidavit formats to fix the quantum of maintenance amount.
“In matrimonial cases, the Court has to ascertain the financial capacity/status of both the parties for fixing maintenance. In many developed countries, the law prescribes a comprehensive format of assets, income and expenditure to be filed by both the parties at the very threshold of matrimonial litigation.”
For the first time, the direction and affidavit formats were issued by Delhi High Court in January 2015 and then revised in May and December 2017. In earlier decisions of the year 2015 and 2017, the court considered ten affidavits that were used in five countries.
“this Court considered ten affidavits of assets, income and expenditure used in five countries. Fifty more formats of affidavits of assets, income and expenditure of various countries namely U.S.A., U.K., Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia and South Africa have now come to the notice of this Court thereby warranting modification of the judgment dated 06th December, 2017.”
The bench has recently formulated an affidavit format in the “Bhandari Engineers II” case, which the court found to be more comprehensive than the format used in matrimonial cases.
The revised affidavit formats and directions will be applied to all matrimonial cases including cases under “Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Section 125 Cr.P.C; Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956; Special Marriage Act, 1954; Indian Divorce Act, 1869; Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956.”
The bench said that, “Maintenance is part of basic human right“. Further said said it two-fold, first to prevent needy and second that needy gets support in defending or prosecuting the case.
The bench also said that, the husband pays nothing to support his wife and children in the breakdown of marriage.
“On the breakdown of the marriage, it often so happens that the husband pays nothing for the support of his wife and children and the wife has to fall back upon her parents and relatives to fend for her immediate needs…Hence, it is but natural to make the husband bear the cost of maintaining his wife pending disposal of any dispute until some permanent relief is provided to her.”
The modified affidavit of assets, income and expenditure which the Court said it “very comprehensive and is useful to determine the maintenance”.
A salaried person is required to disclose “salary, D.A., commissions, incentives, bonus, perks, perquisites, other benefits, Income tax etc.”
A self-employed person is required to disclose, “the nature of business/ profession, share in the business, net worth of the business, number of employees, annual turnover/gross receipts, gross profit, Income Tax, net income and regular monthly withdrawal/drawings from the business.”
The bench also said that, parties has to file the affidavit simultaneously.
“The simultaneous filing of the affidavit by the parties is very important and should be strictly adhered to.“
The bench while taking strong stand on delay in filing the affidavit, said that court can fix ad-interim maintenance after hearing the parties.
“If any party delays in filing of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure or the affidavit filed by a party is not in terms of these directions or a party delays the disclosure of further information/documents and the delay is causing hardship, the Court is at liberty to fix ad-interim maintenance after hearing the parties.”
The new format will also be applied to the parties who has still not filed it.
To expedite the proceedings to decide maintenance amount, the bench has also directed the Principal Judge, Family Court to list “all the pending maintenance cases which are more than one year old“.
The bench then asked the Central Government for the consideration to incorporate “mandatory filing of the affidavit of assets, income and expenditure”.
Some of the guidelines issued by the High Court are as follows:
- “the Court may fix ad-interim maintenance on the basis of the admitted documents pending filing of the affidavit of the assets, income and expenditure by both the parties.”
- “a party delays the disclosure of further information/documents and the delay is causing hardship, the Court is at liberty to fix ad-interim maintenance after hearing the parties.”
- “If the statements made in affidavit of assets, income and expenditure are found to be incorrect, the Court shall consider its effect by drawing an adverse inference or imposing additional cost, while fixing the maintenance.”
- “At the time of issuing notice on the petition for dissolution of marriage, the Court shall consider directing the petitioner to deposit such sum”
- “At the time of passing a decree of divorce, the Court shall bring to the notice of the concerned party, as the case may be, that he/she can claim permanent alimony without prejudice to his/her right to challenge the decree of divorce”
- “The affidavit of assets, income and expenditure is to be treated as guidelines to determine the true financial capacity/status of the parties. The Courts are at liberty to determine the nature and extent of information/documents necessary and to direct the parties to disclose relevant information and documents to determine their financial capacity/status.”