School teacher who lied for maintenance from estranged hubby faces 3 years in jail
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Fraud and justice cannot dwell together, rules the Bandra Family Court while ordering that a complaint be filed against the woman; the husband was paying her Rs 20,000 per month.
A school teacher from Borivali, who lied under oath to receive maintenance from her estranged husband even as their divorce petition was being heard, now faces up to three years in jail for perjury.
In a rare order that could have a bearing on hundreds of thousands of cases related to marital disputes, the Bandra Family Court judge Subhash Kafre noted that there was enough evidence against the woman to prosecute her, and directed the court's deputy registrar to file a complaint.
The court directed the court officials to file a complaint under Indian Penal Code sections 177, 181, 182 and 191 read with 193 for concealing her monthly income even as she sought maintenance from her husband. If convicted, she faces a jail term up to three years, besides a fine.
The woman, 32, and her husband, 31, got married in 2009. Barely 10 months into the marriage, the man issued a divorce notice, and filed a petition in the family court alleging cruelty. He further alleged that his wife would frequently turn "hysterical" and threatened to commit suicide.
The woman countered that her husband and mother-in-law would torture her, and were maligning her by resorting to such allegations.
While the divorce petition was pending in the court, the woman filed an application seeking maintenance in the interim period, claiming that she had no source of livelihood except her father's income.
In her application filed in April 2011, she said, "I have no source of income and have become a burden on my parents. It is embarrassing and a ridiculous situation, as I am being compelled to depend upon my parents for my daily needs even after marriage."
The family court granted her application about a year later, and directed her estranged husband to pay Rs 20,000 per month right from the date of filing of the application.
Two moths later, in May 2012, her husband found out that she was employed at the same school where she worked before marriage, following which he filed an application through his lawyer Usha Tanna, seeking review of the maintenance order passed in the woman's favour.
The review application said, "The husband managed to get an annually published magazine by the said school from one of the students, wherein photographs of respondent (wife) appear in the list of the pre-primary staff of the school." The application sought the wife to produce the documents related to her employment and her bank statement.
Refusing to submit the documents, the woman said that she was merely a trainee teacher and it was not apermanent job. But the man persisted and filed an application before the court to issue summons to the principal of the school, and to the concerned bank where she held a 'salary account'. Going through the documents, the court came to the conclusion in May last year that the woman lied about her employment, and reduced the maintenance amount from Rs 20,000 per month to Rs 13,000 per month.
Using this order as a precedent, the husband then filed another application -- in July last year -- seeking action for perjury.
While granting the application, Judge Kafre observed: "It is a settled principle of law that he who seeks equity, must do equity. Fraud and justice cannot dwell together. A dishonest person cannot be entertained by the court of law."
The judge also observed that in matrimonial disputes, the court makes every possible attempt to find a solution. "In such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the party to tell the truth to the court, so that the court can go to the root of the matter to solve the dispute. There should not be a game of hide and seek when justice is sought," the court noted while passing an order against the woman.
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