Tax returns are not sacrosanct when it comes to calculating the maintenance paid by a man to his estranged wife and kids, the Bombay high court has ruled. In two recent cases, the HC thwarted the attempt of two businessmen who challenged the maintenance awarded to their wives, pointing at their paltry earnings as shown in income-tax returns. However, Justice Roshan Dalvi said, “The consideration of the income contemplated under the (Hindu Marriage Act) does not mean that only the numerical figures shown in the tax returns of a party can be taken as the gospel. The ascertainment of the income has to be done judiciously, not arbitrarily.”
The court said, “It would be absurd to consider the net income of an assessee who has various sources of income some of which may not be taxable,” the judge said.
In the first case, Dilip Singh, has offices in Goregaon and Kandivli, challenged a family court’s order to pay maintenance to his estranged wife. He claimed that according to his IT papers, his income was Rs 16,000 per month but going through his documents, the court could not agree with it. “In this income, the man would not be expected to have the bank account that is shown to court (with large deposits and withdrawals), the car, the share in the joint-family property, the exports that he has made and the employees he pays,” said the judge.
The second case related to another businessman, Deepesh Mehta, who objected to a family court’s order of paying Rs 40,000 per month to his wife and two sons. He claimed his monthly income, as per his IT returns, was Rs 20,000. “A person who earns that income, would not be able to invest in shares (to the tune of Rs 55 lakh), insurance, PPF accounts, government bonds, flat, shop,” said the court, dismissing his application.
(Names of the men have been changed)