A Division Bench of Justices Akil Kureshi and S J Kathawalla has recently passed an order stating that if a divorced husband is not consulted by his ex-wife on decisions concerning the education of their child, he is not liable to bear the entire cost for the educational expenses.
The facts arising out of the Sheetal Bhatija vs Deepak Bhatija case include that the divorced wife had already been receiving maintenance for herself and each of her two daughters. She had stated that the divorced husband had several sources of income and she had also claimed that he had financed several Hindi film productions. Keeping this in mind, the divorced wife (“Applicant”) sought further maintenance to fund the education of one of her daughters who had been admitted to a five-year course in Australia in 2014. She requested the Court to direct the divorced husband to pay a sum of Rs. 1.2 crores towards her daughter’s educational expenses.
In his defence, the divorced husband(“Respondent”) stated that he suffered from heart ailments and was not involved in any active businesses. He stated that he was not consulted before his daughter enrolled into a foreign university and barring two properties, he did not own any immovable assets.
The Bench was of the opinion,
“When a ward is being sent for education abroad at a relatively young age, which entails considerable expenditure, the concurrence of both parents, particularly one who is expected to bear the expenditure thereof, would be necessary. The husband certainly would have a right to inquire about the university where the child is likely to be admitted, the course being pursued, the aptitude of the child in the particular branch of education etc., which would be relevant factors.”
The Bench also opined that they did not find it appropriate to direct the divorced husband to bear the entire educational expenses as the applicant had not produced clear evidence of the complete financial capacity of the husband.
The Court concluded on its findings that the applicant cannot take a unilateral decision of such magnitude and simply send the bill for the expenditure to the father. They also stated that both the applicant and respondent were trying to put forward very bleak financial stabilities from their side. But nevertheless, the father of the child does have an obligation to pay for the child’s education. Taking the defendant’s resources and the efficient aptitude of the child into mind, the Court directed him to pay a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs towards his’s daughter’s education within a span of four weeks.
Link to the judgment: