Setting a benchmark for the maintenance
to be paid to an estranged wife, the Supreme Court
has ruled that 25% of a husband's net salary is the "just and proper" amount of alimony, reported The Times of India.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and M M Santanagoudar made the observation while directing a resident of West Bengal's Hoogly, earning Rs 95,527 a month, to set aside Rs 20,000 as maintenance
for his former wife
and their son, turning down the man's plea that the amount was excessive.
Its order came on the man's plea challenging a Calcutta
high court order directing him to pay her Rs 23,000 per month. Though the apex court said there was nothing amiss in the high court order, it reduced the amount by Rs 3,000 on the ground that the man had remarried and hence needed to provide for his new family.
"Twenty-five per cent of the husband's net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance
to the (former) wife.
The amount of permanent alimony
awarded to her must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, which is always dependent on the factual situation of the case... and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance
passed on various factors," the bench said.
While stating that the high court was justified in enhancing the maintenance
on the basis of the husband's salary, the SC bench noted : "However, since the appellant has also got married a second time and has a child from the second marriage, we think it proper to reduce the amount of maintenance
of Rs 23,000 to Rs 20,000 per month as maintenance
to his (former) wife
and son," the court said.