Question: I want to know whether a husband is bound to maintain his wife to whom he married fraudulently? My husband has solemnised marriage with me by concealing the fact of first marriage. We were working in the same company in Chandigarh. Gradually we started to date each other. Finally we decided to get married.
At the time of marriage I did not know that he was already married. Three years after the marriage I came to know about the truth. Currently I am not working and living separately from my husband, hence, I need financial help from him. Can I claim alimony from him if he has married me without disclosing his first marriage?
Asked from: Chandigarh
Your husband was already married. He duped you by concealing the fact of his first marriage. In these circumstances you are not a legally wedded wife.
Hence, you cannot claim maintenance under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. Section 125 crpc also provides the right to maintenance to the wife.
In Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya v. State of Gujarat, (2005) 3 SCC 636, Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit (1999) 7 SCC 675 the supreme court held that only a legally wedded wife is entitled for maintenance under Section 125 crpc.
Despite the above judgements, you are entitled to get maintenance under Section 125 crpc because your husband cheated you. He cannot take advantage of his own wrong. Therefore, he cannot refuse to pay maintenance.
The above mentioned judgements (Savitaben and Dearika Prasad) are applicable if the second wife, at the time of marriage, was fully aware about the first subsisting marriage of her husband.
You did not know that he was already married and he had a legally wedded wife. Hence, you are entitled to get alimony from your husband under Section 125 crpc.
In Rameshchandra Rampratapji Daga v. Rameshwari Rameshchandra Daga (2005) 2 SCC 33 the Supreme Court has held that however, second marriage in subsisting the first marriage is illegal but it is not immoral. Hence, wife of bigamous marriage is entitled to maintenance.
Hindu marriages have continued to be bigamous despite the enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955. The Court had commented that though such marriages are illegal as per the provisions of the Act, they are not “immoral” and hence a financially dependent woman cannot be denied maintenance on this ground.Rameshchandra Rampratapji Daga v. Rameshwari Rameshchandra Daga (2005) 2 SCC 33
In Badshah v. Urmila Badshah Godse, (2014) 1 SCC 188 the Supreme Court has held that where a man marries a second time by keeping that lady in dark about his first surviving marriage then he is bound to maintain that innocent lady.
Now it is evident from the above judgement that husband is bound to maintain his wife to whom he married fraudulently. Thus, you should move an application under Section 125 crpc for the maintenance. You should explicitly state in that application that:
- You did not know about the first subsisting marriage of your husband.
- Your husband kept you in the dark and knowingly solemnised marriage with you that it is an invalid marriage.
- You are living in destitution and unable to maintain yourself.