In a marriage case, the Bombay High Court granted a woman interim alimony, finding that a mere post on social media about a job vacancy did not imply she was actually employed.
While hearing a written petition, Judge Sandeep V. Marne of the Aurangabad Bank reversed a family court order denying the petitioner and wife’s alimony. In the High Court’s view, the husband respondent failed to produce actual evidence that his wife was employed.
The court further stated that if the wife is not gainfully employed, the mere possession of a higher educational qualification cannot be used to refuse provisional maintenance.
Jalgaon Family Court is currently conducting nullity proceedings between the parties. It rejected the petitioner’s application for alimony under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 on the grounds that she had higher qualifications and ii) she indicated on her social media status that she was looking for a job with a company in secured London. She then filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court.
Post on social media
The petitioner’s lawyer, SV Deshmukh, claimed that the husband did not provide any evidence that his wife was given any job or worked anywhere. She had accidentally received an email offering a job and posted it on social media. However, the offer turned out to be fake, he claimed.
The defendant’s lawyer, AA Nimbalkar, referred to printouts of the petitioner’s Facebook and WhatsApp accounts to argue that not only was she offered a job at a UK company with a salary of £2000, but that her reactions to letters of congratulations this show you had accepted the offer.
The family court had not conclusively determined that the wife received a job or worked as a result of the job offer she posted on social media. Due to their higher qualifications, it was assumed that employment could not be ruled out.
The court ruled that this finding was wrong because the family court itself had found that the mere publication of a social media post was not sufficient to establish a case about the petitioner’s employment. The family court should not have assumed that she got the job because she was better qualified, the court said.
The court found that the husband could have provided concrete evidence such as bank statements, income tax returns, etc. proving that his wife got the job and is making money. The court found, however, that nothing of the sort is on record.
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Nimbalkar argued that either the information in the social media post should be accepted as true or, if false, the woman should not be given relief for her “undesirable act” of posting a fake appointment letter on social media.
The court agreed that the petitioner’s conduct was not commendable and that she should not have written the post without first verifying the authenticity of the offer. In the absence of concrete evidence, however, it cannot be concluded that the offer led to a job.
The court cited an Apex Court decision in Shailja v. Khobbanna, which distinguished between earning capacity and actual earning and held that earning capacity cannot be used to reduce alimony awarded by a family court.
The court concluded that the husband could not prove that the wife was actually employed. The court further stated that her mother’s alleged political position and the petitioner’s own political involvement were irrelevant.
The husband submitted his salary slip and bank statements claiming monthly income of Rs 78,598/-. The wife claimed that her husband’s salary is Rs 1,33,377 based on a filing in the month of August 2018. The court found that there was no reason to question the husband’s salary slip and affidavits, adding: ” In my opinion, a stray entry on the bank statement cannot indicate the exact salary earned by the interviewed husband.”
As a result, the court awarded the applicant provisional alimony of Rs 7,500/- while the family court case was pending.
Written Petition #2668 of 2021 Case #
Tejpal S/o Premchand Patil by Aboil aka Yugandhara without Tejpal Patil
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