India: Alimony Denied To A Woman ‘Living In Adultery’

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Madras high court, in southern India, recently ruled that a woman divorced for being adulterous could not claim maintenance from her ex-husband.

Case Highlights:

  • March 2010: Family Court grants an “ex-parte” divorce on the ground that the wife was “living in adultery”.
  • July 2015: Madras high court judge says Kanimozhi not entitled to claim alimony if she “committed breach of the sexual obligation she had before dissolution of her marriage”.

Old cases:

  • In one case, a woman who had long telephone conversations with a man late at night was taken to be adulterous
  • In one case, the Delhi high court accepted the charge of adultery saying that if a woman was found alone in a room with a man

India’s maintenance law says:

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which deals with alimony, spells out clearly the three circumstances in which a “wife” is not entitled to maintenance:

  • if she is living in adultery
  • if she deserts her husband without giving any sufficient reason
  • if they are living separately by mutual consent

Women’s rights activists have described the ruling as appalling and preachy.

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