The woman, now aged 55, said she was made to believe that he had divorced his wife for being unable to conceive a son before marrying her.
The HC single-judge bench of Justice Rajesh Patil, on December 14, upheld a 2015 order passed by a magistrate for a monthly maintenance of Rs 2,500 under legal provisions meant for maintenance to a wife. The HC also allowed the woman to file a fresh plea for enhancement of the maintenance amount.
The HC held that for Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code – it provides for maintenance to wife and certain other kin, who are unable to maintain themselves – the woman who he had later parted ways with, would be treated as the ‘wife’.
The HC relied on a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that said the standard of proof of marriage in a Section 125 proceeding (for maintenance) is not as strict as is required in a trial for an offence under Indian Penal Code Section 494 (marrying again in the lifetime of husband or wife).
A plea for maintenance under Section 125 can be made before a magistrate.
In January 2015, a judicial magistrate first class in Yeola, Nashik district, on the woman’s plea of 2012, had granted her only Rs 2,500 as monthly maintenance based on the husband’s monthly income of Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000.
The man opposed her plea in a sessions court in Niphad, saying he had never “married” her.
In April 2022, the sessions court set aside the magistrate’s order. Soon after, the woman petitioned the HC against the sessions court order. She informed the HC that she had married the man in 1989 and delivered a son in 1991. She said that two years into her marriage, the first wife, through intervention of mediators and her own consent, started cohabiting with her husband and also gave birth to a son. Later, the ‘second wife’ again gave birth to a son. She cited the man’s name as the father on both her son’s school documents.
Soon after her second son’s birth, problems arose and she started living separately and received maintenance till 2011, when allegedly at the instigation of the first wife, he stopped the payments, she informed the court. The HC then quashed and set aside the sessions court order and gave the husband two months to clear the outstanding dues of the last nine years and allowed the woman to file a fresh plea for enhancement of the amount.
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