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CHANMUNIYA V. VIRENDRA KUMAR SINGH KHUSHWAHA & ANOTHER

Chanmuniya v. Virendra Kumar Kushwaha, Civil Appeal No. 15071, SC, 2010

ISSUE:

  • Whether the appellant can claim maintenance from the respondent?

RULE:

  • When lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have withstood legal preconditions of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he desolates her.

FACTS:

  • One Sarju Singh had two sons, Ram Saran and Virendra Kumar Singh Kushwaha (younger son & the first respondent).
  • The appellant, Chanmuniya, was married to Ram Saran and had 2 daughters-Asha, and Usha. Ram Saran died on 7.03.1992.
  • Thereafter, the appellant contended that she was married to the first respondent as per the customs and usages prevalent in the Kushwaha community in 1996.
  • The custom allegedly was that after the death of the husband, the widow was married to the younger brother of the Ram Saran.
  • The appellant contended that she and the first respondent were living together as husband and wife and had performed all marital obligations towards each other.
  • The appellant further contended that after some time the first respondent started pestering and torturing the appellant, stopped her maintenance, and also refused to discharge his nuptial obligations towards her.
  • The appellant initiated proceedings under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for maintenance and also a suit of restitution of conjugal rights under Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
  • The appellants argued that in those cases where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have withstood legal preconditions of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he desolates her.
  • The man should not be allowed to gain from the legal escape clauses by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and constraints.
  • The appellant was decreed with the suit in her favor by the Trial court but the findings of the trial court were reversed by the High Court.
  • The appellant reached the apex court by way of a special leave petition against the impugned orders of the High Court.

HELD:

  • The law provides for the hypothesis of marriage. In the instant case, the appellant and the respondent have been living together as man and wife for a sufficient period of time.
  • The people around them must have supposed, from their manner that the parties are husband and wife. The parties must be living or should have lived in one household and behaved in a way that led others to believe that they were husband and wife.
  • The objectives of Section-125 of Cr. P.C is to achieve a social purpose and to avoid vagrancy and destitution.
  • The court held that the questions raised by the petitioner should be referred to a larger bench of the SC and in their view; the interpretation they have given would be a just application of the principles enshrined in the preamble of the constitution.