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No strict proof of marriage required for entitlement of maintenance under Section 125 (1)of the CrPC: Calcutta High Court

The Court has no hesitation to hold that there exists domestic relationship between the parties. The petitioner has failed and neglected to provide maintenance to the opposite party which is obviously instances of economic abuse and accordingly domestic violence. This was said in the case of Biswajit Samanta v Arati Samanta [C.R.R 717 of 2019] by Justice Bibek Chaudhuri in the High Court of Calcutta.

The facts of the case date back to 31st January, 2019 when the Sessions Judge in an Appellate order affirmed the order passed by the Judicial Magistrate under Section 29 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Assailing the order of the Session judge, the petitioner filed a revision petition

The petitioner contended that the opposite party has claimed to be the married wife of the petitioner on the strength of her ration card where the name of the petitioner is recorded as her husband, a certificate issued by the Contai Municipality and an LIC Policy standing in the name of the opposite party. The abovementioned documents are in the nature of private documents. So, the trial Court as well as the Court of Appeal committed gross illegality by accepting those documents even as prima facie proof of marriage. The opposite party has failed to prove her marital relationship or live in relationship in the nature of marriage. Therefore in the absence of any domestic relationship with the petitioner, the opposite party cannot claim any relief under the  Section 23 of PWDV Act

The opposite party contended that in a proceeding under the PWDV Act, strict proof of marriage between the parties is not necessary. If the Domestic Incident Report (DIR) shows that there is domestic relationship between the parties and the aggrieved person was subjected to domestic violence, she is entitled to relief under various provisions of the statute

The Court referred to the case of Dwarika Prasad Satpathy vs Bidyut Prava Dixit [AIR 1999 SC 3348] wherein it was said that “no strict proof of marriage is required; if the claimant prima facie satisfied the court that claimant and her husband lived as husband and wife, she is entitled to maintenance under Section 125 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The standard of proof of marriage in proceedings under Section 125(1) of the Cr.P.C is not as strict as requires in trial of offences under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code”.

The Court after analysing the facts of the case in the light of the above judgment said that “The same principle is applicable in a proceeding under Section 12 read with Section 23 of the PWDV Act in deciding a question as to whether a woman is having domestic relationship with a man by marriage. In the trial Court the opposite party was held to be the wife of the petitioner and the said order was affirmed by this Court”. The amount of interim monetary relief is to be paid by the petitioner under the DV Act but the petitioner is entitled to have adjustment of the amount of maintenance already paid by him to the opposite party under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The instant revision petition was thereby dismissed.

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