In a significant ruling, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, last week held that pension of a former public servant or an employee working in public sector can be seized or attached by judicial orders for paying maintenance to a wife. The HC delivered the ruling while upholding orders of a Magistrate to attach the pension of a former public servant to pay the same as maintenance to his estranged wife.
A bench of Justice Murlidhar Giratkar held that even though the pension granted by the government cannot be attached in a civil dispute, the same can be seized for the purpose of paying maintenance. “The husband in the instant case has relied upon the provisions of the Pensions Act which states that maintenance allowance granted to wife cannot be considered as debt.
The provision bars attachment of pension to creditors,” Justice Giratkar noted. “However, a wife is not a creditor hence exemption cannot be granted to the husband by not attaching his pension. The said provision itself shows that pensions can be attached to recover the amount of maintenance.
Hence, the stand taken by the husband that pensions cannot be attached is not digestible,” Justice Giratkar ruled. The bench was dealing with a revision plea filed by a husband challenging orders of a Magistrate court, which ordered attachment of his pension. The husband was getting Rs 72,000 as a monthly pension.
Taking note of the amount, the Magistrate had ordered the husband to pay an amount of Rs 30000 per month as a maintenance to his estranged wife. The husband claimed that the amount ordered is unreasonable and he cannot afford to pay such a “huge” amount.
Having considered the contentions, the bench said, “It appears the husband is retired and getting the pension. The wife is also running beauty parlor. The maintenance amount of Rs 30000 per month, as ordered, appears to be exorbitant.” The judge accordingly disposed of the petition by reducing the maintenance amount to Rs 20000.
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