25 May 2023 8:25 AM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has set aside an order of a family court asking a woman’s second husband to pay her a monthly maintenance allowance after it was revealed that she had not divorced her first husband and as such she was not a legally wedded wife of the second man. The bench of Justice Rajendra Kumar Verma dismissed the criminal Revision Petition preferred by the petitioner...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has set aside an order of a family court asking a woman’s second husband to pay her a monthly maintenance allowance after it was revealed that she had not divorced her first husband and as such she was not a legally wedded wife of the second man.
The bench of Justice Rajendra Kumar Verma dismissed the criminal Revision Petition preferred by the petitioner husband aggrieved by the order passed by Principal Judge Family Court, Singrauli, whereby the application under Section 125 CrPC filed by the respondent-wife was partly allowed and the husband was directed to pay Rs.10,000/- per month to the wife.
During the proceedings, the petitioner informed the court that the respondent was earlier married to another man in the year 2006-07. She left him after 5-6 years of marriage due to some marital dispute, however, did not formally divorce him.
While expounding on Section 125 CrPC, the court pointed out that the provision is a tool for social justice and was enacted to ensure that women and children are protected from a life of potential vagrancy and destitution, and is meant to provide a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife.
However, the court noted that the respondent failed to provide any documentary evidence substantiating her divorce from her first husband. While she produced compromise applications filed before the JMFC Court Singrauli, pertaining to a case under the Domestic Violence Act against her husband, she claimed to have obtained a divorce according to the customs of her caste.
The court clarified that the decree of divorce can only be granted by the court and divorce by such agreement is not valid in the eyes of law, and therefore, concluded that at the time of alleged marriage, the respondent was already married to her first husband and that he was still alive.
It further observed that even if a woman does not have the legal status of a wife, she is brought within the inclusive definition of "wife'' in order to maintain consistency with the object of the statutory provision.
However, the court said that a wife whose marriage is void on account of survival of the first marriage would not be a legally wedded wife, and therefore would not be entitled to maintenance under this provision.
While rejecting the respondent’s claim for maintenance from the Petitioner under Section 125 CrPC, the court pointed out that the term "wife'' under Section 125 Cr.P.C. does not envisage a situation wherein both the parties in the alleged marriage have living spouses.
While disposing of the petition and granting liberty to the respondent to file a separate suit for claims from the petitioner under Section 22 of the Domestic Violence Act, the court asserted, “This Court finds it unfortunate that many women, especially those belonging to the poorer strata of society, are routinely exploited in this manner, and that legal loopholes allow the offending parties to slip away unscathed. In spite of the social justice factor embedded in Section 125 CrPC, the objective of the provision is defeated as it fails to arrest the exploitation which it seeks to curb.”
Case Title: B Vs. PS Criminal Revision No. 1440 Of 2022
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (MP) 68
Shri J.L. Soni, Advocate For The Petitioner
Shri Arvind Kumar Pathak, Advocate For The Respondents
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