Bench: Justice Dr. Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia
Appellant married Respondent according to the customary rights and rituals of their caste. After initial years Respondent started ill-treating the Appellant and she was subjected to mental and physical torture. On enquiry it was found that the Respondent was already married to ‘Veenaben’ 22 years prior.
Whether woman unlawfully married to be treated as 'wife' and entitled to maintenance u/s 125 Cr.P.C?
The Supreme Court held that the legislature considered it necessary to include within the scope of Sec. 125 an illegitimate child but it has not done so with respect to woman not lawfully married. As such, however, desirable it may be to take note of the plight of the unfortunate woman, who unwittingly entered into wedlock with a married man the legislative intent being clearly reflected in Sec. 125 of the Cr PC, there is no scope for enlarging its scope by introducing any artificial definition to include woman not lawfully married in the expression 'wife'. It is the intention of the legislature which is relevant and not the attitude of the party. The principle of estoppels cannot be pressed into service to defeat the provision of Sec. 125 of the Cr PC. In the instant case the evidence on record has been found sufficient by the Courts below by recording findings of fact that earlier marriage of respondent was established hence the application so far as claim of maintenance of the wife is concerned stands dismissed. However maintenance was granted to their illegitimate child.