Supreme Court says 25 percent of ex-husband’s net salary a `proper` amount as alimony

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that 25 percent of the husband’s net salary could be awarded to the dependent estranged wife as alimony.

The amount of maintenance or permanent alimony must be enough to ensure that a woman lived with dignity after divorcing her husband, said the court.

“Twenty-five percent of the husband’s net salary would be just and proper to be awarded as maintenance to the (former) wife. The amount of permanent alimony awarded to her must be befitting the status of the parties and the capacity of the spouse to pay maintenance, which is always dependent on the factual situation of the case… and the court would be justified in moulding the claim for maintenance passed on various factors,” The Times of India quoted a bench of Justices R Banumathi and MM Santanagoudar as saying.

The bench, however, made the observation while reducing the alimony amount of a divorced woman, holding that her ex-husband had to run his new family.

A resident of West Bengal’s Hoogly, who earns Rs 95,527 a month, has now been directed to give Rs 20,000 as maintenance amount to his ex-wife and their son. The Calcutta High Court had ordered the man to pay her Rs 23,000 per month. Albeit the SC observed that there was nothing wrong in the HC order, yet it cut down the amount by Rs 3,000 in the wake of the fact that the man had remarried and hence needed to provide for his new family.

“…However, since the appellant has also got married a second time and has a child from the second marriage, we think it proper to reduce the amount of maintenance of Rs 23,000 to Rs 20,000 per month as maintenance to his (former) wife and son,” the court said.


Rita Dey Chowdhury, who hails from Serampore in West Bengal, had been awarded Rs 16,000 a month as maintenance by the Calcutta High Court. However, the HC later increased the amount to Rs 23,000 in 2016 as the salary of her husband Kalyan Dey Chowdhury, who works at Malda Medical College, was revised from Rs 63,842 to Rs 95,527.

Chowdhury had pleaded that the original order of Rs 16,000 per month should be restored.

In 2016, the court had noted: “A Hindu woman’s right to maintenance is a personal obligation so far as the husband is concerned, and it is his duty to maintain her even if he has no property… . It is well settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties then his wife is entitled to a right to be maintained out of such properties.”