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18 years after deserting stuttering spouse, woman files for maintenance

A woman who attempted to claim maintenance from her stuttering husband she had deserted years ago was rebuked by the Bandra Family Court, which blamed her for the breakdown of the marriage. Hina Shah (name changed, 46), based in Jogeshwari, had approached the court in 2009 seeking maintenance from her husband Nasir (name changed, 50), who is based in Vadodara. The court rejected her demand last Monday.

The allegations
According to Hina’s petition, she married her husband in Vadodara in 1987. She alleged that she had been subjected to cruelty, including starvation and being kicked in the stomach while pregnant. She even contended that she had to borrow money from her UK-based sister to make ends meet. At one point, she allegedly moved to the UK for some years to escape her husband’s torture. But her cross-examination portrayed a different picture.

Hina told her examiners that her husband’s problem of stammering had affected the marriage. She admitted that she did not wish to live with him. She also revealed that she had been living away from her family since 1991, and would often visit Mumbai. In 1999, she came to the city for a wedding and decided to stay back, allegedly because of her husband’s cruelty. But Judge PL Palsingankar observed, “Her version has no ring of truth.” In fact, Nasir would come to Mumbai and convince Hina to return with him. The court also noted that Nasir had filed a petition for restitution in Vadodara, seeking to have his wife return to live with him.

Conduct
In 2000, Hina returned to Mumbai after having quarreled with Nasir again. The judge observed, “This admission clearly shows the quarrelsome behaviour of the petitioner. She admitted that at that time she had not intimated respondent or parents-in-law about her journey to Mumbai. This shows that she used to return to Mumbai without intimating anybody from the house. These tendencies do not point towards the factum of [her] neglect and refusal on the part of husband, but it shows [Hina’s] conduct.” In 2005, Hina had overstayed a tourist visa while visiting her sister in the UK. The court concluded that as Hina had refused to provide details of her stay there, she was working there, and therefore did not require maintenance.

Court says
While rejecting her application, the court observed, “She enjoyed her residence at London and has not cared for either children or [husband]. Now she cannot blame her husband for being negligent in maintaining her… If you have deserted your husband on your own, how come you have come to this court to claim maintenance? …The petitioner does not even know what illnesses her mother-in-law or son are suffering from… Considering the answers given by the petitioner, I am convinced that she has come with a weak stand to claim maintenance." 

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