A dead man's two wives and father are fighting in courts for 14 years to stake their share of claim on his employees' provident fund (EPF).
The Supreme Court, however, brought an end to one of the litigations — between the first and second wife. A bench headed by Justice SJ Mukopadhyaya declared the man's second marriage void as it took place during the subsistence of the first, denying denied retiral benefits to the illegitimate wife.
The court, however, permitted the child born out of the relationship to a share.
But, the matter doesn't end here. The court has agreed to delve into the dead man's father's contention that he was entitled to his son's EPF as he was the sole nominee in the official records.
The case arises from Chennai where a man named Govindraju married Pushpa in 1986. A child was born to the couple out of the wedlock. Owing to differences, Pushpa left the matrimonial home along with her son and started living with her parents.
As the differences between the two remained unresolved, Govindraju married the second time with a woman named Rukmani in 1996. Till then he hadn't divorced Pushpa. In 2000, he filed a divorce suit against her after a son was born out of his second relationship.
During pendency of the divorce proceedings Govindaraju died. Thereafter, the two wives of vied for his death benefits.
On October 29, 2004, district Munsif Court of Salem ruled that Pushpa and her son were entitled to 2/3rd share of EPF. One-third share was also allotted to Rukmani's son. However, no share was given to the father who was the nominee.
Rukmani, however, challenged the order before additonal subordinate judge who allotted 1/4th share to her. Govindraju's father was also given the share.
Aggrieved, Pushpa appealed in the Madras high court which interpreting the Hindu Marriages Act (1955) held Rukmani wasn't entitled to any share as she was not a legally wedded wife. Her son's right was declared intact. HC even took away the father's share saying he was just a nominee and not an heir to the son's property.