The Supreme Court on Monday sent a 74-year-old man to jail for not paying Rs 1.65 crore maintenance to his estranged wife.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, orally told counsel appearing for Michael Arul that he “will go to prison for three months”.
The top court, on February 19, had given the final opportunity to Arul to clear Rs 2.6 crore arrears of maintenance, along with monthly maintenance of Rs 1.75 lakh, to his estranged wife. On Monday, the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, noted that on the last hearing, it granted Arul four weeks’ time, yet he had not made the full payment.
“You are not concerned about the well-being of your wife,” the bench noted.
Wife’s counsel Ishaan George said the Supreme Court has made its position very clear that husbands who do not pay maintenance to their wives are liable to face imprisonment.
Arul’s counsel insisted that his client is old and he should not be sent to jail, and insisted before the top court to him some more time to make the full payment.
George said that currently the balance maintenance payable is Rs 1.65 crore and added that the matter has been going on since 2009.
Arul’s counsel argued that his client has a one-fourth share in an ancestral property and he is trying to monetise it to clear the maintenance amount. The top court did not pay heed to these submissions and reiterated that he got many chances in the past, still he has not paid in full.
However, the top court order detailing the exact time period for Arul’s imprisonment was not uploaded till the end of day.
On the previous hearing, the top court had said: “Accordingly, by way of last chance, we permit the respondent to make payment of the entire outstanding amount along with the monthly maintenance regularly to his wife, within a period of four weeks from today, failing which, the respondent (husband) may have to be punished and sent to civil prison.”
“It is not disputed by the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent and the respondent himself that he has been directed to pay money to his wife under two heads: one is the monthly maintenance of Rs 1,75,000 and the other is the past arrears of maintenance from the year 2009 which amounts to Rs 2.60 crore (approx), out of which an amount of Rs 50,00,000 has been paid to the wife,” the top court had said in its February 19 order.