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Husband refuses to maintenance due to unemployment

By Shivendra Pratap Singh

My husband refuses to pay maintenance due to his unemployment. He left his job 2 months after the filing of a case under section 125 crpc. He was a commission agent in the excise tax department and earning well. I need maintenance for the sustenance of myself and my son.

Question from: Maharashtra

You have a right to get maintenance from your husband under section 125 crpc. Your husband has intentionally left his job to frustrate your case. He wants to absolve himself from the responsibility to maintain his wife. 

This is an absolute liability of the husband to maintain his wife even if he is jobless. Being jobless is no defence under section 125 of the code of criminal procedure. Section 125 is social legislation and its prime aim is to protect the destitute woman from starvation.

Nowadays, husbands are intentionally adopting this practice to save themselves from paying maintenance. They think that it will frustrate the case of the wife and compel the wife to live in destitute. But they will not get any benefit from doing such an act. Section 125 CrPC mandates that a husband must support his wife.

Even unemployed husband is bound to pay maintenance

According to Section 125 crpc, if the husband has sufficient means, he has to maintain his wife. The court has liberally interpreted the word “sufficient means.” The Supreme Court held in several judgments that if the husband has the potential to earn he is liable to pay maintenance. 

Your husband has intentionally left his job after receiving the information that you have filed a case for maintenance. This conduct proves that he is neglecting you and refusing to maintain. 

Section 125 crpc does not require that the husband must actually work at the time of determination of maintenance. If the husband has intentionally left his job after the filing of maintenance application then the court will presume that husband has sufficient means as required under section 125. If the court does not take such presumption then the husband will defeat the object of section 125 merely by leaving his job. Therefore, your husband’s plea that he is a jobless person will not sustain.

An able-bodied person should maintain his wife

Law expects that a healthy or abled bodied man should do work to maintain himself and his dependants like wife, children and aged parents. If the husband is healthy he must maintain his wife who is unable to maintain herself. This is the social, moral and legal duty of the husband.

Your husband has left his job thereafter taking the plea that he is a jobless person. His conduct itself proves that he is neglecting his wife. He was working as a commission agent before filing the case then he cannot say that he has lost his ability to work. He still has the potential to earn and maintain himself and his family. Therefore, he cannot take unemployment as an excuse for giving alimony.

The husband being an able-bodied person is duty-bound to maintain his wife who is unable to maintain herself.

Reema Salkan v. Sumer Singh Salkan, (2019) 12 SCC 303

Regard being had to the solemn pledge at the time of marriage and also in consonance with the statutory law that governs the field, the husband must see that the wife does not become a destitute, a beggar. A situation is not to be maladroitly created whereunder she is compelled to resign to her fate and think of life “dust unto dust”. It is impermissible.

Bhuwan Mohan Singh v. Meena, (2015) 6 SCC 353

It is the sacrosanct duty to render financial support even if the husband is required to earn money with physical labour if he is able-bodied. There is no escape route unless there is an order from the court that the wife is not entitled to get maintenance from the husband on any legally permissible grounds.”


Alimony includes the supply of food, lodging and other necessary things for leading a dignified life. The husband is under obligation to maintain the same living status of his wife which she would have in her matrimonial home. This is the standard procedure for the ascertainment of the amount of maintenance. 

Therefore, your husband has no escape route. It is the sacrosanct duty of the husband to see that his wife would not become destitute. This is indeed the social goal of Section 125 crpc.

Section 125 is a social legislation

Section 125 is social legislation because the legislature has enacted it to save the wife from starvation. Moreover, the only legally wedded wife is entitled to get maintenance under this section. If you prove that the husband is refusing or neglecting to maintain you despite having sufficient mean, then the court will grant alimony.

Kirtikant D. Vadodaria v. State of Gujarat and another [1996] 4 SCC; Supreme Court is held that the provision contained in Section 125 of the Code, has primary object to give social justice to the woman, child and infirm parents etc. and to prevent destitution and vagrancy by compelling those who can support them.

Captain Ramesh Chander Kaushal v. Veena Kaushal [1978] 4 SCC; section 125 of the code gives effect to fundamental rights and natural duties of a man to maintain his wife, children and parents when they are unable to sustain themselves.

What should you do

Your case is genuine and meets all the ingredients of section 125 crpc. Adduce following facts in the court:

  • You have been living in destitution.
  • Your husband refuses to maintain.
  • He has sufficient means to maintain you.
  • You have expelled from the matrimonial home.
  • Husband is not willing to perform his legal obligation.
  • You have sufficient reason to live separately from the husband.
  • Service records of the husband to prove that he was earning well.

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