Income tax returns not the gospel in determining income of the Parties – Bombay H.C

The issue before the Bombay High Court was whether the interim maintenance granted to the wife and
the sons were reasonable and if they were excessive. In the following case the petitioner submitted the tax
returns of the last 3 years for the determination of the above issue.

However the court held that it would be absurd to consider the net income of an assessee who has various
sources of income some of which may not be liable to tax at all. The Court agreed that the net taxable income of the Petitioner and the Respondent might be lesser than what he is portraying it to be. The Court instead determined his standard of living from other means.

These returns themselves show the worth of the Petitioner. They do not show a person who earns an amount of Rs.20000/- per month as is alleged by the Petitioner. A person who earns that income, if that be his only income, would not be able to invest in shares of listed companies, insurance, PPF account, government bonds, flat, shop etc. Though these assets are not liable to distribution or division whilst considering the interim maintenance, these are required to be seen and appreciated by the court for considering the income earned from such assets to appreciate his standing in society.

This is aside from the fact that it is settled position in law that the tax returns of a party shown by the
party in Court, specially in matrimonial proceedings, cannot be taken for the gospel.

Hence the Court held that the income has to viewed in toto to ascertain whether the interim maintenence
charged was rational and not excessive.

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