Category Archives: Criminal Law

Informant – Cannot be the Investigator

In a criminal prosecution, there is an obligation cast on the investigator not only to be fair, judicious and just during investigation, but also that the investigation on the very face of it must appear to be so, eschewing any conduct or impression which may give rise to a real and genuine apprehension in the mind of an accused and not mere fanciful, that the investigation was not fair. In the circumstances, if an informant police official in a criminal prosecution, especially when carrying a reverse burden of proof, makes the allegations, is himself asked to investigate, serious doubts will naturally arise with regard to his fairness and impartiality. It is not necessary that bias must actually be proved. It would be illogical to presume and contrary to normal human conduct, that he would himself at the end of the investigation submit a closure report to conclude false implication with all its attendant consequences for the complainant himself. The result of the investigation would therefore be a foregone conclusion. Mohan Lal  v. State of Punjab, (2018) 17 SCC 627.

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Filed under Criminal Investigation, Criminal Law

Divorce Petition – Before Lapse of One Year From the Date of Marriage

In Manish Sirohi v. Smt. Meenakshi, AIR 2007 All 211, the husband made an application for divorce and the wife took a stand in the written statement that she is not inclined to continue marital relationship with her husband. However the said application was rejected by the court below on the ground that as per Section 14 of the Act, court cannot entertain any petition for dissolution of marriage unless at the date of presentation of the petition one year has elapsed from the date of the marriage. When the matter reached the High Court, it was held as under:

            “We have gone through the provision contained under the proviso to section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act and we find that the High Court can allow to present the present the petition before lapse of one year from the date of marriage on the ground that the lapse is one of exceptional hardship to the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent. It appears to us that when immediately after marriage no marital relationship developed amongst themselves and they are voluntarily inclined to withdraw relationship, their life should not be allowed to be deserted. When differences have occurred which cannot be compromised if at this stage they are separated, they can be able to enjoy their happy marital life elsewhere. Continuance of the litigation will cause mental and physical harassment to them unnecessarily when both of them are not inclined to continue with the relationship at all. Both the parties have withdrawn their allegations and counter allegations against each other.”

            In catena of cases relating to  matrimonial dispute, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed that matrimonial disputes have to be decided by courts in a pragmatic manner keeping in view the ground realties. For this purpose a host of facts have to be taken into consideration and the most important being whether the marriage can be saved and the husband and wife can live together happily and maintain a proper atmosphere at home for the upbringing of their offspring. A. Agarwal v. Principal Judge, 2019 (2) AWC 1735.

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Filed under Divorce Petition Within One Year of Marriage

Annulment of Marriage – Concealment of Material Facts

On a careful reading of Clause (c) of Section 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, it will appear that both the parties, in case of adult, are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the material fact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriage so much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material facts or circumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family to another, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation. For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society in a marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and the groom must not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have any marriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl (as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste and community, conversely , a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought, particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even having knowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other counter sex outside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste, community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or at the time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud in obtaining consent.

            In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyay v. Avik Chattopadhyay, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of the marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earlier marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached to the Family Court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. On an appeal, the Calcutta High court endorsed the view taken by the trial court and observed that premarital status of a party is a material fact which the other party must know before imparting consent for marriage. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2019 (2) AWC 1369.     

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Filed under Annulment of Marriage, Matrimonial Dispute

Order for – Interim Maintenance

An order under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 does not decide in any manner rights and liabilities of the parties raised in matrimonial petition. The lis in matrimonial petition continues even after disposal of the application under Section 24 of the Act, 1955 as the object of the provision is to enable the indigent, weaker spouse to resist the action of others and to maintain himself or herself, as the case may be. The maintenance awarded under Section 24 of the Act, therefore, can only be said to be an interim maintenance, which would be payable during the continuance of the substantive proceedings under the Act. However, with the termination of the said proceedings, the order under Section 24 of the Act, will lose its efficacy. That means that the said order cannot inure after termination of petition.

       Further, that no appeal shall lie against an interlocutory order under Section 19(1) of the Family Courts Act, 1984, the appeal filed against the order under Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 cannot be said to be in continuation of the original proceedings. Smt. Madhu Mishra v. Prem Kumar Mishra, 2019 (1) AWC 761.

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Filed under Interim Maintenance, Matrimonial Dispute

Second Marriage – When Permissible during Pendency of Appeal

Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act provides that it shall be lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of a marriage, if there is no right of appeal against the decree. A second marriage by either party shall be lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the decree of divorce, if filed. If there is no right of appeal the decree of divorce remains final and that either party to the marriage is free to marry again. In case an appeal is presented, any marriage before dismissal of the appeal shall not be lawful. The object of the provision is to provide protection to the person who has filed an appeal against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The purpose of Section 15 of the Act is to avert complications that would arise due to a second marriage during the pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded by Section 15 is primarily to a person who is contesting the decree of divorce.

       In case during the pendency of the appeal, there is a settlement between the husband and wife, and after entering into a settlement, he does not intend to contest the decree of divorce, his intention can be made clear by filing an application for withdrawal. In that case, he does not have to wait till a formal order is passed in the appeal or otherwise his marriage is unlawful. Following the principles of purposive construction, it was held that the restriction placed on a second marriage in Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act, till the dismissal of an appeal, would not apply to a case where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the appeal. Anurag Mittal v. Mrs. Shaily Mishra Mittal, 2019 (132) ALR 725.

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Filed under Matrimonial Dispute, Second Marriage

Cruelty – Levelling False Allegations

Cruelty can never be defined with exactitude. What is cruelty will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. In case the wife makes reckless, defamatory and false accusations against her husband, his family members and colleagues, which would definitely have the effect of lowering his reputation in the eyes of his peers. Mere filing of complaints is not cruelty, if there are justifiable reasons to file the complaints. Merely because no action is taken on the complaint or after trial the accused is acquitted may not be a ground to treat such accusations of the wife as cruelty within the meaning of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. However, if it is found that the allegations are patently false, then there can be no manner of doubt that the said conduct of a spouse leveling false accusations against the other spouse would be an act of cruelty. Raj Talreja v. Kavita Talreja, 2017 (123) ALR 835.

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Filed under cruelty, Matrimonial Cruelty, Matrimonial Dispute

Disclosure Regarding Previous Marriage

      On a careful reading of Clause (c) ofSection 12(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, it will appear that both the partiesin case of adult are obliged to divulge mutually and unequivocally the materialfact or circumstances to each other before or at least at the time of marriageso much so that element of deception is ruled out. The words material fact orcircumstances have not been defined or specified. It varies from one family toanother, according to culture, ethos and social system in ages and situation.For example in a conservative family having attachment with puritan society ina marriage inevitable and unerring expectation is that both the bride and groommust not have any record of prior marriage in any sense nor will have anymarriage in any sense, not even any premarital affairs with other boy or girl(as the case may be). They cannot think of even marrying outside their caste andcommunity, conversely, a family with liberal and cosmopolitan approach, thought,particularly in urban area will not mind in case of marriage even havingknowledge of background of prior marriage or premarital affair with other sexoutside their caste and community. In case of former, concealment of caste,community or background of prior marriage or premarital affairs before or atthe time of marriage is obviously extremely material and it amounts to fraud inobtaining consent.

       In the case of Saswati Chattopadhyaya v. Avik Chattopadhyaya, (2011) 3 ICC 51, the husband was not informed about the earlier marriage at the time of negotiation or at the time of solemnization of marriage. On inquiry, the husband came to know that there had been previous marriage of the appellant with one Sudip and it was also discovered that the earler marriage was dissolved by consent. When the matter reached the family court, it came to the conclusion that there has been suppression of the relevant fact with regard to the premarital status of the appellant and such relevant fact goes to the root of the matrimonial relationship. Pradeep Kumar Maheshwari v. Smt. Anita Agarwal, 2018 (131) ALR 566.

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Filed under Matrimonial Dispute, Previous Marriage