A homemaker is entitled to an equal share in properties purchased by her husband with his earnings since he could not have bought the assets without the wife taking care of the family, the Madras High Court has held, Live Law reported on Sunday.

In an order passed on June 21, Justice Krishnan Ramasamy stated that no legislation has been enacted yet to recognise the contribution made by a homemaker.

“A wife, being a homemaker peforms multi tasks, viz., as a manager with managerial skills-planning, organising, budgeting, running errands, etc.; as a chef with cullinary skills-preparing food items, designing menus and managing kitchen inventory; as a home doctor with health care skills-taking precautions and giving home made medicines to the members of the family; as a home economist with financial skills – planning home budget, spending and saving, etc,” he wrote in the judgement.

This, Justice Ramasamy added, was a round-the-clock job without any holiday. Therefore, her contributions “cannot be less equated with that of the job of an earning husband who works only for 8 hours”, the judge said.

The High Court passed the verdict while disposing of an appeal by a man alleging that his wife was trying to usurp the properties that he had purchased with the money he earned while working abroad. He alleged that she led a “wayward life” by squandering his money and had an extra-marital affair.

The wife, however, contended that she was entitled to an equal share in the properties as she looked after his family instead of seeking employment herself.

“If the 1st defendant had not stayed at home and gone for employment, she would have earned more money, in which case the plaintiff was supposed to have spent time to takecare of the children and to maintain the family affairs,” her counsel argued. “Even if any maid was appointed, it is doubtful whether the said maid will take care of the family for 24 hours…”

The judge said a woman in the end could not be left with nothing to call her own.

“When the husband and wife are treated as two wheels of a family cart, then the contribution made either by the husband by earning or the wife by serving and looking after the family and children, would be for the welfare of the family and both are entitled equally to whatever they earned by their joint effort,” Justice Ramasamy said. “The proper presumption is that the beneficial interest belongs to them jointly.”