The husband would physically assault the woman, who was malnourished as the family lived a hand-to-mouth existence. She even lost her first child due to the condition. When the second child turned out to be a daughter, the man was infuriated and abandoned her. The HC has now awarded about Rs 1 lakh in maintenance to the woman. The Family Court had earlier rejected her maintenance claim.
Rajendra Patil and Preeti (names changed to protect privacy) were married on May 6, 1996 after which they moved to Rajendra’s government quarters in Andheri. They soon began quarrelling over trivial matters such as Preeti’s cooking, and Rajendra even accused her of being unfaithful.
On August 27, 1997, Preeti delivered a child prematurely. Preeti was seriously malnourished at the time of delivery, and the child died soon after birth. In 1999, Preeti bore a girl, naming her Geeta. Unhappy and angry over the sex of the child, Rajendra continued his period physical assaults on Preeti.
On September 9, 2000, Rajendra violently thrashed Preeti, and thereafter dropped her off at her parents’ house, where she has been living ever since. Preeti then approached the Family Court, seeking maintenance. On July 17, 2004, the Bandra Family Court granted Rs 1,000 per month as maintenance for the couple’s daughter, while rejecting the mother’s plea. Geeta’s custody went to Preeti.
Taking into account that the Family Court never cross-examined Rajendra on his physical abuse and his suspicious nature, the HC bench ruled that the trial court had erred and granted Rs 750 per month as maintenance for Preeti from June 2001 onwards.
In appeal, the division bench of Justices NH Patil and AR Joshi observed, “We have observed that the tenor of the cross-examination of the wife goes to suggest that she was reluctant to stay with the husband in a joint family and that she left the house allegedly of her own wish and took the small child with her and stayed with her parents.” The court also allowed Preeti to seek enhancement from the Family Court later on, if necessary.