New Delhi, Oct.19 (ANI): The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that in a Hindu marriage, a second wife would also be entitled to alimony, if she was kept in the dark about the subsisting first marriage of her husband.
A Bench comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and AK Sikri held that 'Provision of maintenance would definitely fall in this category which aims at empowering the destitute and achieving social justice or equality and dignity of the individual.'
While Section 125 of the CrPC envisages a claim for maintenance only by a legally wedded wife, the court said on Friday that if this interpretation is not accepted, it would amount to giving a premium to the husband for defrauding the wife.
"Therefore, at least for the purpose of claiming maintenance under Section 125 CrPC such a woman is to be treated as the legally wedded wife," the court added.
The Bench clarified that earlier SC judgments against payment of maintenance to the second wife would be applicable only to cases involving women who got married with full knowledge that the first marriage of the men concerned was still subsisting.
"In such cases, she should know that second marriage with such a person is impermissible and there is an embargo under the Hindu Marriage Act and therefore she has to suffer the consequences thereof," the SC Bench clarified.
Pointing out that the preamble to the Constitution had highlighted the need for achieving social justice, the SC said "therefore it becomes the bounden duty of the courts to advance the cause of social justice. While giving interpretation to a particular provision, the Court is supposed to bridge the gap between the law and society." (ANI with inputs)