We are living in the era of deepfakes; Delhi High Court upholds maintenance order citing insufficient evidence for adultery charges

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An appeal was filed challenging the judgment and order dated 15-04-2024, whereby the application filed by the respondent/wife under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 was disposed of and appellant/husband was directed to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs. 75,000 to the respondent/wife, effective from the date of the application, with an annual increase of 7% starting from 01-04-2025. A division bench of Rajiv Shakdher and Amit Bansal, JJ., dismissed the appeal being devoid of merits.

The couple married on 06-02-2018 and have a daughter who is approximately five years old. The Family Court, after assessing the status of both parties and reviewing the evidence, concluded that the husband’s claim of earning Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 41,000 per month was inconsistent with the financial transactions in his bank account. The husband, a professional architect with his own company, was found to have a higher income than he declared. Similar financial scrutiny was applied to the respondent/wife, who holds a postgraduate degree in Mass Communication. Following their separation, she has been living with her parents and is currently unemployed.

The respondent/wife initially requested a monthly maintenance of Rs. 2,00,000, but this amount was reduced by the Family Court to Rs. 75,000 per month. The husband’s counsel argued that the respondent/wife was living in adultery, presenting certain photographs as evidence. However, upon review, it was unclear if the wife was indeed the person in the photographs. The court acknowledged the possibility of deepfakes and indicated that this issue would require evidence to be presented in the pending divorce proceedings initiated by the appellant/husband.

Despite the husband’s argument, there was no mention of the adultery claim in the initial reply to the respondent/wife’s application under Section 24 of the HMA. The Court observed that if this claim was significant, the appellant/husband should have sought a review from the Family Court, which he did not. The Appellate Court found no merit in the appeal, leading to its dismissal. The husband is obligated to comply with the maintenance order.

[Nirmaan Malhotra v. Tushita Kaul, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 4326, decided on 28-05-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr Prateek Goswami, Advocate for appellant

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