New Delhi, May 23 - Estranged wife is entitled to know the income and assets details of her husband for claiming maintenance, a Delhi Court has said while ruling out that it was for the woman to prove that her spouse was a man of means.
"The details of his (man) assets and income are the facts which are specifically in the knowledge of the husband and therefore, it is only the man who can produce the said details and not the wife," Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Kamini Lau said.
The remarks were made by the court while rejecting the plea of a man, an advocate by profession, to set aside the order of a magistrate asking him to provide the details of his income and assets while dealing with the issue of granting interim relief to the complainant wife.
The ASJ was adjudicating an appeal filed by the man, a resident of Karol bagh here, challenging the order of the magisterial court on the ground that burden of proof was upon the wife to prima facie show his income and also to show that she was unable to maintain herself.
The sessions court, however, dismissed his plea saying, there was no illegality in the order of the magistrate and directed the man to comply with the trial court's order within two weeks and asked him and the woman to appear before the magistrate on May 25.
The man said in his plea that his wife was not able to show anything about his income except making claiming that he was a practicing advocate earning over Rs 50 lakh per annum.
The woman had approached the magistrate under the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act praying for grant of protection order, residence order and maintenance from her husband.
The woman had sought directions to her estranged husband to pay her a compensation of Rs 20 lakh for causing mental and physical injuries and to pay monetary relief of Rs 50,000 per month for food, clothes and other basic necessities under the provisions of the Act.
The man challenged the magistrate's order saying it was against his right of "self incrimination".
The ASJ, however, rejected the man's argument and said it was "fallacious" and devoid of merit as the Article 20 (3) (no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself) of the Constitution is relevant only in the case of an accused in proceedings under the criminal statute which arises if he does not comply with the court's orders.
"But certainly not in a proceeding of a civil nature. In the present case, the magistrate had issued directions to the man to provide to the court the details of his income and assets while dealing with civil rights of the wife. The proceedings so far were civil. They have not yet attained a criminal/penal character," the court said.
It also said the man cannot be permitted to twist and distort the scope of Article 20 (3) of the Constitution and in order to extend the same to the present proceedings only to deprive his estranged wife from her legal dues as the same would be against the intent and object of the Act.
"Even otherwise, maintenance of the wife is the duty and obligation of the husband and it is open for the court to seek relevant details regarding the income and assets of the husband in proceedings which are fully civil in nature," the ASJ said. PTI