The Bombay High Court has reiterated that the standard of proof of marriage in proceedings for maintenance is not as strict as that for bigamy.

It was further held that if the claimant succeeds in proving that the respondent and claimant lived together as husband and wife, then the Court can presume that they are legally wedded spouses.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Rajesh S Patil placed reliance on Dwarika Prasad Satpathy Vs. Bidyut Prava Dixit, wherein it was observed that, "the validity of the marriage for the purpose of summary proceedings under Section 125 CrPC is to be determined on the basis of the evidence brought on record by the parties. The standard of proof of marriage in such proceedings is not as strict as is required in a trial of offence under Section 494 IPC. If the claimant in proceedings under Section 125 of the Code succeeds in showing that she and the respondent have lived together as husband and wife, the court can presume that they are legally wedded spouses".

Counsel Narayan G Rokade and Counsel Ajinkya V. Taskar appeared for the petitioner. APP YM Nakhwa, Counsel Priyank Daga and Counsel Sushrita Daga appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioner filed an application under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, seeking maintenance from the respondent/husband.

The petitioner, the wife, asserted that she married the respondent under the belief that he had divorced his first wife. The respondent's first wife later sought to cohabit with him, and with the petitioner's consent, they lived together. During their marriage, the petitioner gave birth to two sons. Subsequently, the respondent began harassing her, leading to the petitioner and her sons residing separately from him. The respondent paid maintenance until 2011, after which he ceased payments.

The petitioner then filed a maintenance application under Section 125 of the Cr.P.C., seeking Rs. 5,000 per month. Despite presenting evidence, including school documents with the respondent listed as the father, the Magistrate, granted Rs. 2,500 per month. However, the Sessions Court later overturned this maintenance order.

The Court took the considered view that the respondent could not be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong. In that context, it was said that, "Respondent cannot be allowed to deny the maintenance claim to the Petitioner, taking advantage of his own wrong."

Subsequently, the respondent was directed to pay maintenance to the petitioner and clear the outstanding amount.

Cause Title: Mrs. Alka Bhausaheb Bhad @ Alka vs Mr. Bhausaheb Ramrao Bhad & Anr.

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