In an exceptional order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that a husband may beg, borrow or steal for paying allowance to his wife and child, as his first and foremost duty was to maintain them.
The assertion came during the hearing of a revision petition filed by a husband, challenging the order dated April 17, 2015, by the Bhiwani District Judge (Family Court), sentencing him to civil imprisonment for a year for non-payment of Rs 91,000 to his wife as arrears of maintenance allowance.
Justice HS Madaan asserted that the arrears were for about 45 months. Sentencing the man to jail was a “mode of enforcement” and not a “mode of satisfaction” of the liability. Hence, the liability could be met only by making actual payment of the arrears.
“The purpose of sending him to jail is not to wipe out the liability, which he has refused to discharge. Monthly allowance is paid in order to enable the wife and child to live by providing the essential economic necessities. Neither the neglected wife nor the neglected child can live without funds for purchasing food and the essential articles to enable them to survive. The first and foremost duty of the husband is to maintain the wife and the child. He may beg, borrow or steal,” the Bench observed.