Financial security, security of residence of women need to be protected: Justice Nagarathna

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) Financial security as well as security of residence of Indian women need to be protected and enhanced for their true empowerment, Justice Nagarathna observed on Monday.

She made the observation while delivering a separate but concurring verdict of a bench, also comprising Justice Augustine George Masih, which held that a Muslim woman can seek maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the CrPC and said the "religion neutral" provision is applicable to all married women irrespective of their religion.

"Both 'financial security' as well as 'security of residence' of Indian women have to be protected and enhanced. That would truly empower such Indian women who are referred to as 'homemakers' and who are the strength and backbone of an Indian family which is the fundamental unit of the Indian society which has to be maintained and strengthened," Justice Nagarathna said in her 45-page verdict.

She said it goes without saying that a stable family, which is emotionally connected and secure, gives stability to the society because it is within the family that precious values of life are learnt and built.

"It is these moral and ethical values which are inherited by a succeeding generation which would go a long way in building a strong Indian society which is the need of the hour. It is needless to observe that a strong Indian family and society would ultimately lead to a stronger nation. But, for that to happen, women in the family have to be respected and empowered!" she said.

Justice Nagarthna adverted to the vulnerability of married women in India who do not have an independent source of income or access to monetary resources in their households, particularly for their personal expenses.

She said in Indian society, it is an established practice that once a daughter is married, she resides with her husband or his family unless due to exigency of career or such other reason she has to reside elsewhere.

"In the case of a woman who has an independent source of income, she may be financially endowed and may not be totally dependent on her husband and his family. But what is the position of a married woman who is often referred to as a "homemaker" and who does not have an independent source of income whatsoever, and is totally dependent for her financial resources on her husband and on his family?"she said.

Justice Nagarathna said most married men in India do not realise the predicament such Indian homemakers face as any request made for expenses may be bluntly turned down by the husband or his family.

"Some husbands are not conscious of the fact that the wife who has no independent source of finance is dependent on them not only emotionally but also financially.

"On the other hand, a wife who is referred to as a homemaker is working throughout the day for the welfare of the family without expecting anything in return except possibly love and affection, a sense of comfort and respect from her husband and his family which are towards her emotional security. This may also be lacking in certain households," she said.

Justice Nagarathna observed that an Indian married man must become conscious of the fact that he would have to financially empower and provide for his wife, who does not have an independent source of income, by making available financial resources particularly towards her personal needs.

"Such financial empowerment would place such a vulnerable wife in a more secure position in the family. Those Indian married men who are conscious of this aspect and who make available their financial resources for their spouse towards their personal expenses, apart from household expenditure, possibly by having a joint bank account or via an ATM card, must be acknowledged," she said. PTI MNL MNL SK SK