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Birendra Bikram Singh And Others vs Kamala Devi

High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad|29 January, 1994


1. This second civil appeal has been preferred against the judgment and decree dated 4-9-1982 passed by Sri Harish Chandra, District Judge, Bahraich, dismissing the Civil Appeal No. 179 of 1982, preferred against the judgment and decree dated 16-7-1982 passed by Sri Jagdish, Civil Judge, Bahraich in Regular Suit No. 99 of 1980.
2. Smt. Kamla Devi plaintiff-respondent filed a suit bearing No. 99 of 1980. against her husband Sri Birendra Bikram Singh and Smt. "Roop Rani with whom Sri Birendra Bikram Singh married later on and two others praying that the decree in the nature of declaration be passed against Sri Birendra Bikram Singh and Smt. Roop Rani appellants Nos. 1 and 2, who were defendants Nos. 1 and 2 in the suit to the effect that Smt. Roop Rani is not the legally wedded wife of Sri Birendra Bikram Singh and in alternative if their marriage stood proved then that marriage be declared null and void. It was also prayed that the appellant No: 2 Birendra Bikram Singh be directed to pay Smt. Kamla Devi A maintenance at the rate of Rs 300/-per month. A prayer was also made that Sri Birendra Bikram Singh appellant No. 1 be directed to return the ornaments which were mentioned in the list to the respondent Smt. Kamla Devi.
3. Smt. Kamal Devi has averred in the suit that her marriage with defendant-appellant No. I was solemnised about 11 years prior in accordance with Hindu Rites. After the said marriage the plaintiff lived with appellant-defendant No. 1. The plaintiff was not educated while defendant No. 1 was a graduate and was working as a teacher in the City Montessori School at Lucknow. After some time his attitude towards the plaintiff underwent a change and he began to ill-treat her by giving out that she was illiterate and was not worthy to live with him in Lucknow and he also expressed a desire to enter into the marriage with another lady and perpetuated both mental and physically cruelties against the plaintiff. His parents also turned against her and they started torturing her. In the month of Vaisakh, 1977 she was allowed to participate into the marriage of her brother without taking her ornaments. Since, the year 1977 she has been living with her father and during the period neither the appellant defendant No. 1 did take any care nor paid her maintenance while she was residing with her father. The appellant defendant No. 1 married with Smt. Roop Rani appellant defendant No. 2, in spite of the fact that she had filed the suit for injunction, restraining them from entering into the marriage. The plaintiff contended that the marriage of appellant defendant No. 1 with appellant-defendant No. 2 was illegal. The appellant-defendant No. 1 has 25 acres of agriculture land and his monthly income is about Rs. 1200/- Hence the plaintiff was entitled for maintenance at the rate of Rs. 300/- per month.
4. The defendants have filed a joint written statement. Their contention was that the marriage between the defendant No. 1 and defendant No. 2 had taken place in the year. 1966, but the parents of the defendant No. 2 had not sent her to live with defendant No. 1 at that time, because she was suffering from sonic mental desease. The father of the defendant No. 1 then married him to the plaintiff. She came 10 his house after the marriage, but went back in the year 1969, She did not return till 1972. She came in the year 1974 and began to reside with him though she went to visit her father's place on several occasions. In April, 1974 the plaintiff quietly left their house at night. The plaintiff had refused to live with him. The father of the defendant No. 2 assured the father of the defendant No. 1 in 1976 that his daughter has fully recovered. Thus, he brought the defendant No. 2 to his house in the year 1977 and since then they have been residing together. The plaintiff had the knowledge of his first marriage. She has declined to reside with him. As such she is not entitled to claim any maintenance. The articles allegedly left with the defendants were taken by the plaintiff and she is not entitled to claim from them any articles or any amount on that account.
5. After considering the cases of the parties and the evidence on the record, the Learned Civil Judge held that the marriage between the plaintiff and the defendant No. 1 was solemnised as alleged by the plaintiff. The marriage between the defendant No. 1 and defendant No. 2 was, solemnised afterwards. The marriage between the defendant No. 1 and the defendant No. 2 was, therefore, not in accordance with law or valid. The plaintiff was entitled to maintenance at the rate of Rs.250/- per month but she was also not entitled to claim any amount of the price of the articles or ornaments. As a result of those finding, the suit of the plaintiff was decreed.
6. Being aggrieved against the order of Civil Judge, the appellants preferred an appeal on 4-9-1982 before the District Judge, Behraich. The said appeal was dismissed and the finding of the learned Civil Judge was confirmed.
7. After considering the entire evidence on record, the Courts below have given a finding that the marriage between the plaintiff and defendant No. 1 had taken place in the year 1968 and marriage between defendant No. 1 and defendant No. 2 had taken place in the year 1978. This is a concurrent finding of the fact which had become final which could not be subjected to the judicial scrutiny in the second appeal.
8. As far as the contention of the appellants that the Courts below have committed an illegality declaring the marriage of defendant No. 1 with defendant No. 2 as null and void on the petition of the plaintiff, who was not a party to the said marriage is concerned, it is totally misconceived because it is a decree, of nullity which may be passed by the Court.
"Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act reads as under:--
"Any marriage solemnized after the commencement of this Act shall be null and void and may, on a petition presented by either pary thereto, against the other party be so declared by a decree of nullity if it contravenes any one of the conditions specified in class (i), (iv) and (v) of Section 5."
Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act reads as under:--
"A marriage may be solemnized between any two Hindus, if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:--
(i) neither party has a spouse living at the time of marriage;
(ii) .....
(a) to (c).....
(iii) .....
(iv) .....
(v) .....
9. Clause (i) of this section introduces monogamy which is essentially the voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others. It enacts that neither party must have a spouse living at the time of marriage. The expression 'spouse' here used means a lawfully married husband or wife. Before a valid marriage can be solemnized both parties to such marriage must be either single or divorced or a widow or a widower and then only they are competent to enter into a valid marriage. If at the time of performance of the marriage rites and ceremonies one or other of the parties had a spouse living and the earlier marriage had not already been set aside the later marriage is no Marriage at all. Being in contravention of the condition laid down in this clause it is void ab inftio.
10. The general rule of matrimonial law that a.party to a marriage of which the other party is incompetent to join in the celebration because of the existence of a previous husband or wife is entitled without recourse to any court to marry anyone else because that particular marriage is not in law a marriage at all is applicable equally well to marriage under the Act. A person, an innocent party to a bigamous marriage, may go to a court for a declaration that the bigamous marriage is null and void. That would be for the purpose of precaution or record or evidence. But the bigamous marriage is non-existent and simply because there is no recourse to the court it cannot be said that it exists unless and until a decree is passed, declaring it to be null and void. Section 17 in terms lays down such a marriage is null and void and imposes punishment for bigamy as provided in the Penal Code.
11. In the case of Smt. Aina Devi v. Bachan Singh reported in AIR 1980 All 174 it was held:
"Section 11 specifically enables either party to the marriage to have it declared null and void by a decree of nullity, against the other party. Section 11 does not confine the right to present a petition thereunder to the aggrieved party alone. On the other hand, it expressly confers the right to sue on either party to a marriage which contravenes any of the conditions of clauses (i), (iv), and (v) of Sections".
12. It was also held; "the petitioner having proved by positive evidence that the first respondent already had a married wife living in the person of respondent 2 was entitled to a decree declaring it as null and void. It could not be said that the petitioner was taking any advantage of her own wrong, for the petitioner's allegation that she was already married thrice before had been denied by the first respondent, which meant that even if it were a fact that the petitioner had three husbands of previous marriages living when the first respondent married her, the first respondent was not at all aggrieved by that fact."
13. In the case of Lakshmi Ammal v. Ramaswami Naicker (sic) and another. It was held;
"The phase "either party thereto" can only mean two persons namely, the actual parties to the marriage. Any marriage requires only two parties, and no third party. It will be contrary to sense and commonsense alike to bring in a co-wife co-husband, concubine, keep, etc., on the ground that they also perform much the same functions, as the husband and wife, the parties to the void marrigae. A co-wife cannot become "a wife, under the second marriage" for she is already a wife under first marriage, and cannot be married again to her husband, at any rate without the intervention of a divorce and cessation of marriage for some time. Hence the first wife cannot apply under Section 11 for declaring the marriage of the second wife as void under Section 17. The first wife is however not left remediless. She can file a suit, under the ordinary law, for a declaration that the marriage of her husband with the second wife is illegal and void, under Act XXV of 1955. The law, in its wisdom, has given a preferential treatment to the husband and wife vitally affected, and that comes under "Proper classification" cannot be called an "illegal discrimination offending Art. 14 of the Constitution, or any other Articles of the Constitution."
14. in view of the Sections 11 and 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act there is no remedy in case her husband married with another lady. In common law she has right to file a suit for declaration that the marriage of her husband with second wife is illegal and void.
15. Hence, the contention of the learned counsel for the appellants that on a suit filed by the first wife, the marriage of her husband with another lady subsequently would not lie, has no substance. The appeal is, accordingly dismissed. Interim order, if any, stand discharged.
16. Appeal dismissed.
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Birendra Bikram Singh And Others vs Kamala Devi


High Court Of Judicature at Allahabad

29 January, 1994
  • S Raza