The Madras High Court recently observed that even if a marriage is not legalised due to the existence of a first marriage, the second wife, and the children born out of the arrangement, will be entitled to receive maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Justice K. Murali Shankar of the Madurai Bench was hearing a revision petition that sought a review of an order passed by a Tirunelveli family court directing a man to pay his wife and their son a maintenance amount of Rs. 10,000 per month and the entire arrears of the maintenance amount within a period of one month.
Madras HC On Maintenance To Wife
The woman has filed a petition stating that he has failed to pay maintenance to her and her son, although he was legally bound to do so. She also claimed that he had demanded 25 lakh rupees as dowry. Knowing that she couldn't meet his demands, he began avoiding her. The woman also alleged that the man was earning a monthly income of Rs. 50,000 and was getting an additional income of Rs. 90,000 every month from renting the eleven houses that he owned.
The man, on the other hand, had disputed the marriage and paternity of the child. He submitted that he had been married to another woman since 2011 and had a child from that marriage. He added that although they had filed a divorce petition, it was dismissed after trial, and an appeal of the same was filed in court.
He also alleged that he was only getting Rs. 11,500 in hand per month and that he was giving Rs. 7,000 to his first wife and child. So he contended that there was no marital relationship between him and the woman and that he was not liable to pay any maintenance amount to them.
After observing the documents submitted, the court noted that the man's first marriage was still subsisting. Although the second wife had submitted a marriage invitation, photo, and birth certificate of the child to prove that the marriage was valid, the court observed that since the first marriage was still subsisting, the second marriage could not be deemed valid even if proved.
The court also noted the submissions of cell phone records and WhatsApp messages by the woman. The man initially admitted that the messages were sent from his phone but later claimed that he had lost it. The court also took into consideration that the man was not willing to take a DNA test to prove paternity. Thus, the court concluded that the couple were living together as husband and wife, and the child was born out of that relationship.
The court also noted that although the man had claimed he was only receiving an income of Rs. 11,500 per month, he hadn't produced a salary certificate, pay slip, or other documents to substantiate his claim. Taking this into consideration, the court ruled that the family court's order of monthly maintenance of Rs. 10,000 each for the child and the woman wasn't excessive and dismissed the man's petition to quash the family court's order.
Suggested Reading: Karnataka HC Rules: Wife Can't Sit Idle And Claim Full Maintenance