Brief facts of the Case-
The petitioner seeks leave to appeal against the judgment and order dated 28.2.2013 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, By means of the impugned order, the High Court has upheld the award of maintenance to respondent No.1 at the rate of Rs.1000/- per month and to respondent No.2 (daughter) at the rate of Rs.500/- per month in the application filed by them under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) by the learned Trial Court and affirmed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge. Respondents herein had filed proceedings under Section 125, Cr.P.C. before Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) alleging therein that respondent No.1 was the wife of the petitioner herein and respondent No.2 was their daughter, who was born out of the wedlock.
The petitioner was married to the respondent on 10.2.2005 at Devgad Temple situated at Hivargav-Pavsa. The marriage was performed as per Hindu Rites and customs. After her marriage, she resided and cohabited with the petitioner, one lady Shobha came to the house of the petitioner and claimed herself to be his wife. On inquiring from the petitioner about the said lady Shobha, he replied that if she wanted to cohabit with him, she should reside quietly. Otherwise she was free to go back to her parents house. When Shobha came to the house of petitioner, respondent was already pregnant from the petitioner. Therefore, she tolerated the ill-treatment of the petitioner and stayed along with Shobha. However, the petitioner started giving mental and physical torture to her under the influence of liquor. However, when the ill-treatment of the petitioner became intolerable, she came back to the house of her parents. Respondent Shivanjali, was born on 28.11.2005. On the aforesaid averments, the respondents claimed maintenance for themselves. The petitioner contested the petition by filing his written statement. He dined his relation with respondent as his wife and daughter respectively. He alleged that he never entered with any matrimonial alliance with respondent on 10.2.2005, as claimed by respondent and in fact respondent No.1, who was in the habit of leveling false allegation, was trying to blackmail him. He also denied co-habitation with respondent and claimed that he was not the father of respondent either. According to the petitioner, he had married Shobha on 17.2.1979 and from that marriage he had two children viz. one daughter aged 20 years and one son aged 17 years and Shobha had been residing with him ever since their marriage. Therefore, respondent was not and could not be his wife during the subsistence of his first marriage and she had filed a false petition claiming her relationship with him.
Relevant Provisions- Sec-125, 488 Cr.P.C, 5(1) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Firstly, the Court has impressed that if man and woman have been living together for a long time even without a valid marriage, as in that case, term of valid marriage entitling such a woman to maintenance should be drawn and a woman in such a case should be entitled to maintain application under Section 125,Cr.P.C. On the other hand, in the present case, respondent No.1 has been able to prove, by cogent and strong evidence, that the petitioner and respondent had been married each other.
Secondly, as already discussed above, when the marriage between respondent and petitioner was solemnized, the petitioner had kept the respondent in dark about her first marriage. A false representation was given to respondent that he was single and was competent to enter into martial tie with respondent . In such circumstances, the petitioner cannot be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong and cannot turn around to say that respondents are not entitled to maintenance by filing the petition under Section 125,Cr.P.C.
Thirdly, in such cases, purposive interpretation needs to be given to the provisions of Section 125,Cr.P.C. While dealing with the application of destitute wife or hapless children or parents under this provision, the Court is dealing with the marginalized sections of the society. The purpose is to achieve social justice which is the Constitutional vision, enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India. Preamble to the Constitution of India clearly signals that we have chosen the democratic path under rule of law to achieve the goal of securing for all its citizens, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. It specifically highlights achieving their social justice. Therefore, it becomes the bounden duty of the Courts to advance the cause of the social justice. While giving interpretation to a particular provision, the Court is supposed to bridge the gap between the law and society. 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 dealing with cases under this provision, drift in the approach from adversarial litigation to social context adjudication is the need of the hour.
The Supreme Court declined to grant leave to the petitioner and by giving aforesaid reason dismissed the special leave petition.