Mr. Rebates

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Out-of-court alimony settlement, not final: HC

Sept 23, 2010

AHMEDABAD: A settlement outside the court of law during divorce has no value as far as a wife's right to alimony is concerned. Gujarat high court has ruled that even if a woman forgoes her right to maintenance in an out-of-court settlement in writing, she can claim and is entitled to alimony from her estranged husband.

In one such case from Panchmahal district, Sumitra Jadabhai separated from her husband Vikramsinh Rathod in 2001. They separated voluntarily through a divorce deed prepared out of court. And in the compromise deed, which was in writing, Sumitraben stated that she gave up all her right to claim alimony. However, in 2006, she approached the court and demanded maintenance from her husband. The magistrate ordered in 2009 that the woman was entitled to get Rs 900 from the husband every month.

This order was challenged by the husband in a district court, where the husband cited the compromise deed by which Sumitra had relinquished all her rights to alimony. The district court allowed the husband's application and ruled that the woman should not be given any maintenance.

Sumitra approached the high court this year. After hearing the case, Justice Akil Kureshi concluded that the 'so-called compromise was not entered before any court of law. It was an agreement in writing between the parties outside the court. The validity of the divorce deed entered outside the court, it is significant that, no court had occasion to examine reasonableness and fairness of terms of such agreement. When the wife had outside court agreed forgoing her total right of maintenance for all times to come without any amount received from the husband, enforcing such agreement would be opposed to public policy," the high court observed.

Thus, holding that depriving the woman of her right to alimony on basis of an agreement prepared outside the court is against public policy, the high court quashed the district court's order. Justice Kureshi restored the magisterial court's order and asked the husband to pay maintenance to the petitioner on a regular basis. 


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