AIDWA WELCOMES THE PATH BREAKING JUDGEMENT OF THE MADRAS HIGH COURT
WIFE ENTITLED TO 50% OF ALL THE PROPERTIES THAT THE PARTIES HAVE ACQUIRED
26th June 2023
The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) welcomes the path breaking judgement of the Madras High Court by Justice Krishnan Ramasamy in which he has decided that a home-maker who toils for the family and sacrifices her employment opportunities by staying at home, while the husband earns, is entitled to 50% of all the properties that the parties have acquired. The judgement recognises that the contribution of a wife as a home-maker is as valuable as that of the husband who goes to work.
In this particular case, the wife took care of the family and the three minor children when the husband left India to work in Abu Dhabi from 1983 till 1994. During this period, not only did the wife stop working as a tutor and a tailor but also stayed at home to look after and maintain the family affairs and take care of the children. Through her skilful maintaining of the accounts and savings she bought three properties in her name and also another property by pledging her jewellery. She was also gifted jewellery and saris and other moveable property by her husband which she kept in her locker. When the husband came back, he took over the properties and filed a suit claiming that the wife had acted as his agent and bought the properties which actually belonged to him since she had no earnings of her own. During the litigation the husband died and her two sons became the plaintiffs in the suit against her.
However, the court held that it did not matter who contributed towards the buying of the property and the wife was equally entitled to the properties as the husband. It held that the wife, “being a home maker, though she did not make any direct financial contribution, she played a vital role in managing the household chores by looking after the children, cooking, cleaning and managing day-to-day affairs of the family without giving any inconvenience to the plaintiff abroad and moreover, she sacrificed her dreams and spent her entire life towards the family and children.” It further went on to say, “When the husband and wife are treated as two wheels of a family cart, then the contribution made either by the husband by earning or the wife by serving and looking after the family and children, would be for the welfare of the family and both are entitled equally to whatever they earned by their joint effort. The proper presumption is that the beneficial interest belongs to them jointly. The property may be purchased either in the name of husband or wife alone, but nevertheless, it is purchased with the monies saved by their joint efforts.” The court further remarked that the wife had “rendered her continuous services for 24 hours to the family by maintaining the children, preparing food, taking them to school, looking after their needs and taking care of their health, household chores etc., which cannot be weighed lower than earning money by the plaintiff/husband abroad.” The court also held that the property the wife had bought by pledging her jewellery belonged to her solely as did the items of jewellery and movables that were gifted to her.
For the past 15 years, AIDWA has been petitioning successive Governments for a Law which recognises the equal contribution of a wife/partner towards the household and gives her an equal share in all the properties acquired by the parties during the subsistence of the marriage. AIDWA, once again demands that such a law be enacted to ensure that women get justice at home.
P K Sreemathi
Adv Kirti Singh