The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a Jharkhand High Court order which waived off a man from paying maintenance to his wife on the ground that their marriage was not valid as she had concealed her earlier marraige. The apex court said without a declaration from a competent court the marriage was still legally valid.
Deoki Panjhiyiara and Shashi Bhushan Narayan Azad were married in 2006. On a petition by her under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, the trial court by an interim order, directed Azad on February 13, 2008, to pay her `2,000 every month. Challenging this, Azad moved the High Court with a writ petition and also filed an application before the trial court seeking a recall on the order. He said that his marriage with Deoki was not valid, since at the time of thier marriage, she was already married to a man named Rohit Kumar Mishra.
In support of his contention, he placed before the trial court their marriage certificate dated April 18, 2003. The trial court rejected his application.
But, the High Court passed an order, which said that the marriage certificate is proof of the first marriage of Deoki with Rohit which had the effect of rendering the marriage between the Deoki and Azad void.
Challenging this order of the High Court, Deoki moved the apex court. A Bench comprising Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that in the present case the appellant Deoki had denied that she was married to anyone called Rohit Kumar Mishra.
The Bench said that if according to Azad the marriage between him and Deoki is void on account of the previous marriage, he ought to have obtained the necessary declaration from the competent court.
The Bench set aside the order of the High Court and said: “We hold that in the present case until the invalidation of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent is made by a competent court, it would only be correct to proceed on the basis that the appellant continues to be the wife of the respondent so as to entitle her to claim all benefits and protection available under the DV Act, 2005.”