A married man cannot deny the benefit of maintenance to a woman whom he marries after suppressing the existence of his first marriage, the Supreme Court has held.
A bench of Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice AK Sikri upheld a Bombay HC verdict that directed a man to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs. 1000 to his wife and Rs. 500 to his daughter under the Criminal
Procedure Code (CrPc). The husband had challenged the judgment on the ground the woman wasn’t his wife since he was already married at the time she purportedly tied the knot with him.
“…he (husband) duped the respondent by suppressing the factum of alleged first marriage. On these facts, in our opinion, he cannot be permitted to deny the benefit of maintenance to the respondent, taking advantage of his own wrong,” the bench said dismissing the man’s appeal.
It drew support from earlier SC verdicts that have held there would be presumption of marriage between a man and woman who have been living together for a long time. In the case at hand the court declared that the petitioner was legally wedded to the respondent.
It rejected the man’s challenge to the marriage on the ground he had a first wife.
“A false representation was given to the respondent no 1 (woman) that he was single and was competent to enter into martial tie. In such circumstances, can the petitioner be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong and turn around to say that respondents are not entitled to maintenance by filing the petition under Section 125, CrPC as respondent No.1 is not “legally wedded wife” of the petitioner? Our answer is in the negative.”