Pets necessary for healthy life, fulfilling emotional deficits due to broken relationships: Court

A court in Mumbai recently observed that “pets are also part and parcel of a decent lifestyle and they are necessary for human beings to lead a healthy life as they fulfill the emotional deficit that occurs on account of broken relationships.”

The magistrate court made these observations while allowing a plea by a 55-year-old woman under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act, who sought maintenance from her estranged husband citing her age, health issues and three Rottweiler dogs dependent on her.

The court said the maintenance amount cannot be mitigated on the husband’s claim that the ground taken by the woman seeking maintenance for pets cannot be considered. It allowed the woman’s plea, directing the estranged husband to pay her Rs 50,000 per month as interim maintenance till final disposal of her plea.

Metropolitan Magistrate Komalsing Rajput on June 20 passed an order in an interim application filed by the woman for the maintenance in her main plea under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The order was made available this month.

Advocate Shweta R Moray, representing the applicant, informed the court that the couple got married in 1986 and have two married daughters living abroad. “After a considerable period of settled married life, some differences occurred and in the year 2021, the respondent’s estranged husband sent the woman to Mumbai (from southern metro city), assuring her of providing maintenance and other basic necessities. But he has not followed his promise,” Moray argued.

The applicant woman further claimed that the respondent man had indulged in domestic violence against her when they were together. Moray submitted that his client has no source of income and suffers from health issues. Three dogs are also dependent on her, besides other requirements, Moray said.

The woman added that the respondent’s husband is running a business in another metro city and has other sources of income, therefore he should pay temporary maintenance of Rs 70,000 per month to her.

However, the respondent denied the allegations of domestic violence, arguing that the applicant had left his house on his own without any fault on his part. He denied the applicant’s claim of having sufficient sources of income, adding that he suffered losses in business, making him unable to provide any maintenance to her. The estranged husband also said that he had paid certain amounts to her in the intervening period.

The magistrate court observed that “the applicant succeeded in making a prima facie case of commission of domestic violence against the respondent and she is entitled to relief of interim maintenance.”

The court said that while the applicant’s age and ailments were required to be considered while deciding her plea, the pets kept by her were also accruing financial liability on her.

The magistrate held that there is nothing on record “which will dis-entitle the respondent from payment of maintenance, as admitted facts clearly constitute economic violence.”

The court also observed that there was “no concrete material’ to show that the respondent had suffered losses in business and that he was unable to provide maintenance. Even if he had suffered such losses, the same would “not be enough to disown liability,” the court noted.

“The parties belong to a good financial background, the maintenance must be granted and that too with a lifestyle and requirements suitable to her,” it added.

The magistrate disagreed with the husband’s submission against the maintenance sought by the estranged wife for taking care of pets and observed the same “cannot be a ground to mitigate the maintenance amount.”

The court partly allowed the plea and asked the estranged husband to pay Rs 50,000 interim maintenance to the applicant from the date of filing of her application until the decision is taken by her main plea.

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