Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is a social legislation that aims to provide a faster process for maintenance. It entitles a destitute wife to receive alimony if she is unable to maintain herself from her own sources. However, only a legally wedded wife is entitled to receive maintenance under this provision.
For a marriage to be considered legal or valid, it must be solemnized according to personal laws, customs, and enacted laws that are applicable to the parties involved. Although the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, does not require mandatory ceremonies for a valid marriage, the solemnization of marriage according to customary rites and rituals is necessary for a valid marriage.
If your marriage was solemnized according to the mandatory ceremonies prevalent in your community, then it is considered valid. Your husband cannot deny the existence of the marriage during proceedings under Section 125 of the CrPC to defeat your right to maintenance.
Maintenance rights are available only to legally wedded wives, not to mistresses or wives of bigamous marriages. A wife cannot file more than one application under Section 125 of the CrPC to seek maintenance.
Court judgments, such as D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal (2010) 10 SCC 469, Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit (1999) 7 SCC 675, and Yamunabai case (1988) 1 SCC 530, have upheld that only a legally wedded wife has the right to claim maintenance under Section 125.
To claim maintenance, it is crucial to prove that the marriage is valid and that you are the legally wedded wife. Once proven, your husband will be obligated to pay alimony. However, Section 125 does not confer a separate right but provides a faster procedure to execute maintenance rights. The Supreme Court has interpreted the provisions of Section 125 of the CrPC liberally to enable the wife to receive maintenance.