The Supreme Court Friday said a husband cannot abdicate the responsibility of paying maintenance to his estranged wife and gave a last opportunity to a man to clear the entire outstanding of Rs 2.60 crore along with monthly payout of Rs 1.75 lakh to his wife, failing which he would be imprisoned.
A bench of Chief Justice Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian told the man, a Tamil Nadu resident, "Husband cannot abdicate from his responsibility to provide maintenance to his wife and it is his duty to provide the maintenance".
It ordered, "Accordingly by way of last chance, we permit the respondent (man) to make payment of the entire outstanding amount along with the monthly maintenance regularly to his wife...within a period of four weeks from today, failing which, the respondent may have to be punished and sent to civil prison."
During the hearing, senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil appearing for the woman said that despite the top court directing the husband to pay the arrears and monthly maintenance amount while deciding the review petition he has not been paying it and instead leading a lavish lifestyle.
It noted that the man has been directed by the trial court and the decision upheld by the top court and the high court to pay money to his wife under two heads which include monthly maintenance of Rs.1.75 lakh and the other is the past arrears of maintenance from the year 2009 which amounts to approximately Rs 2.60 crore, of which Rs 50,000 has been paid.
The bench told advocate Rohit Sharma, appearing for the husband, that he has not complied with even a single order of the courts and if he does not make the payments within two-three weeks, he will be sent to jail.
The man, who claimed to have been working on a project of national security in the telecom sector, said that he had no money and sought two years to pay the money.
The top court said however that he has lost credibility by failing repeatedly to follow the court's order and wondered how a person with this kind of case was associated with a project of national security.
The annoyed bench asked the man to borrow money or to take loan from a bank and pay the maintenance and arrear amount to his wife within one week or he will be straightaway sent to jail.