Husband jailed for not paying maintenance dues released

MUMBAI: Not paying arrears of maintenance to his wife and two children landed a Mumbai businessman in prison.

He spent 16 days in “civil imprisonment” at Byculla jail and was freed on Saturday, two days after Bombay high court

ordered his immediate release.

On June 6, a family court in Bandra had sentenced him to 30 days of civil imprisonment for failure to pay arrears totalling over Rs 32 lakh and for not giving “sufficient reasons” for his inability to pay up, “though he is a well-bodied person”.

On Thursday, Justice Sadhana Jadhav of Bombay high court ordered his immediate release on an “authenticated order copy”.

When his family went with the order copy on Friday, though, the jail staff declined to release him without an order from the family court, said his lawyer Kishore Maru in a letter to the prison superintendent. On Saturday, the jail authorities released him, acting on the high court order.

The 42-year-old had filed for divorce in 2015 on grounds of cruelty, desertion and adultery and his wife, 40, a research scholar, had sought maintenance.

In January, the family court directed him to pay an interim maintenance of Rs 25,000 each for the wife and two children. He said he was unable to pay it.

In June, the wife went back to the family court invoking provisions of the Domestic Violence Act for his arrest since he had not paid the arrears.

On June 6, the family court took him into custody and sent him to civil imprisonment when he said he would be unable to deposit the arrears right away.

The family court said, “he was given sufficient opportunities to clear arrears of maintenance’’.

The family court sentenced him to 30 days of civil imprisonment for default in payment of a month’s maintenance from August 5, 2015, to September 4, 2015, adding he be released immediately on payment of entire arrears.

It is not often that a family court sends a person to jail for non-payment of maintenance arrears, though Family Court Act empowers it to do so.

The man filed a petition in high court against the state government seeking his release.

The wife’s lawyer, Ghazala Khan, opposed the plea of his lawyers Bharat Manghani and Tushar Nirbhavane who, the high court observed, “fairly” did not dispute the arrear amount and offered to deposit a demand draft of Rs 5 lakh in the court on Friday.

They deposited it. His lawyers said once released, they would give a schedule of payment for the remaining arrears.

The HC thus directed that he be released. It posted the matter next to July 10.

The Ancient Times

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