24 Nov 2023 10:45 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed an appeal filed by the second wife of a deceased State employee, seeking family pension upon the death of her husband. In dismissing her appeal upon noting that the deceased employee's first marriage was still subsisting when he married her, a division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit said, “Family Pension is payable...
The Karnataka High Court has dismissed an appeal filed by the second wife of a deceased State employee, seeking family pension upon the death of her husband.
In dismissing her appeal upon noting that the deceased employee's first marriage was still subsisting when he married her, a division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit said, “Family Pension is payable to the “wife”, and not to those whose marriage is ‘no marriage’ in the eye of law, the limited status of legitimacy of children begotten therefrom, by virtue of Sec.16 1955 Act, notwithstanding.”
The appellant had approached Court after a single bench had dismissed her plea seeking to quash a communication issued by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat raj, whereby her request for the sanctioning of Family Pension along with arrears was rejected on the ground that she was espoused by the employee (Nanjundaiah) while his first marriage was subsisting.
The appellant argued that she, even as the second wife would be entitled to the Family Pension and thus the impugned order was void to that extent.
Upon hearing the arguments, the bench refused to interfere with the order of the single bench since the appellant was not the legally wedded wife for the purpose of grant of Family Pension. It held:
"It hardly needs to be stated that amongst Hindus monogamy is not only ideal but a legal prescription and therefore marriage contracted when the first wife is alive, cannot be taken cognizance of by law, subject to all just exceptions into which the argued case of the appellant does not fit. Recognizing such relations arising from second marriage during the subsistence of first one is detrimental to public interest inasmuch as that would facilitate directly or indirectly the employees contracting the second marriage, which is legally impermissible.”
The bench further noted that statutorily, bigamy was an offence punishable u/s. 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It was observed that the provisions of Rule 294 of the Karnataka Civil Services Rules provide for the sanctioning of Family Pension to the family of a Government servant, after his demise in harness or post-retirement and that according to the relevant rule, '"family’ for the purpose of this rule would include the following relatives of the Government Servant: (a) Wife..."
It was thus held that family pension would be payable only to the legally wedded first wife of the deceased employee and not to those whose marriage is no marriage in the eye of law.'
Accordingly, the appeal was found to be devoid of merit and consequently dismissed.
Appearance: Advocate Sharmila Gowda M R for Advocate Ravindra M R for Appellant.
AGA Niloufer Akbar for R1 & R2.
Citation No: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 449
Case Title: Mahalakshmamma And The Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayatraj.
Case No: WRIT APPEAL NO. 256 OF 2023
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