Can a man be ordered to pay maintenance to a woman who enters into a bigamous relationship with him after concealing her first marriage? Yes, says the Supreme Court.
A bench of justice P Sathasivam and justice Ranjan Gogoi has ruled that unless the alleged bigamous marriage is declared null and void in a proper legal proceeding, the man and woman will be treated as a married couple, which makes him liable to pay her maintenance.
Reversing a Jharkhand high court verdict, the SC was not swayed by a certificate of the woman’s first marriage, the existence of which she has denied.
The two parties married in 2006 and in 2009, a lower court ordered the man to pay the woman Rs. 2,000 a month under the domestic violence act. But a year later, this order was set aside by the high court on production of the first marriage certificate, which it said rendered the second marriage null and void.
However, the SC was of a different view: “Mere production of a marriage certificate… was not sufficient for any court… to render a complete and effective decision with regard to the marital status of the parties and that too in a collateral proceeding for maintenance.”