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A judicially separated wife is entitled to maintenance as a divorced wife and there is no reason to deny it to her, the Supreme Court has said.
The apex court observed this while dealing with a woman's plea challenging the Patna High Court's 2014 verdict which had said that she was not entitled for maintenance.
The high court's order had come on a petition filed by her husband who had challenged a trial court order awarding maintenance of Rs 4,000 per month to the woman.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta set aside the high court's order and remanded the matter to it for fresh consideration.
During the proceedings before the top court, the advocate appearing for the man had argued that she was not entitled for any maintenance and there was already a decree of judicial separation in the case.
"We are noting this argument only to reject it since we find no substance in this argument. If a divorced wife is entitled for maintenance, there is no reason why a wife who is judicially separated is not entitled for maintenance," the bench said in its order.
The bench said it was unable to subscribe to the high court's view that merely because the lower court had not given a finding that the woman was not able to look after herself, she was not entitled for maintenance.
"The high court is required to look into the question whether the petitioner (woman) is entitled to maintenance or not and, if so, the quantum of maintenance," it said.
The woman's counsel told the apex court that she had not been paid any maintenance for the last nine years.
The bench requested the high court to "keep this in mind" while deciding the petition.
The woman had filed a plea before the lower court seeking maintenance under provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure.