The Allahabad High Court recently observed that under Section 125 (dealing with maintenance) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), strict proof of performance of essential marriage rites is not required (Irshad Ali v. State of Uttar Pradesh).
The Court ruled that if “there is prima facie material on record to suggest that the parties have married or are having relationship in the nature of marriage, the court can presume in favour of the woman claiming maintenance.”
This was in view of the intent underlying Section 125, CrPC, which is a summary remedy meant to be a measure of social justice to protect women, children or parents, the Court said.
While upholding the quantum of maintenance awarded by the court below, Justice Raj Beer Singh also observed that “the exercise of revisional jurisdiction itself should not lead to injustice ex facie.”
Background of the case
The revision plea was preferred by one, Irshad Ali against an order of the Principal Judge of family court, Bareilly. The court had directed him to pay a Rs 3,000 per month from the date of application and Rs 2,000 per month from the date of order.
Before the High Court, it was contended that the maintenance order was beyond the court’s jurisdiction and wholly arbitrary and excessive.
Further, it was stated that the marriage between the revision applicant and the opposite party was void because at the time of marriage, he was a minor and the signature on the documents were fabricated.
Opposing the revision plea, it was argued that there is no error in the impugned order. Further, it was submitted that the proceedings under Section 125, CrPC are of summary nature and that the wife had established by evidence that she is legally wedded wife of revisionist.
Questions before the Court
The Court analyzed two questions:
- Firstly, whether the opposite party has been able to show herself as the revision applicant’s married wife, and
- Secondly, whether she is entitled to claim the concerned maintenance under Section 125, CrPC or not.
What the Court held
The Court observed that under Section 125, CrPC, there is no need to determine the ‘rights and obligations’ of the parties as the section is enacted with a view to providing a summary remedy, that too for providing instant maintenance to wife, children and parents.
Reference was also made to the Supreme Court case of Ramesh Chander Kaushal v. Mrs. Veena Kaushal and others, where Justice Krishna Iyer, while dealing with interpretation of Section 125, CrPC, had observed:
“This provision is a measure of social justice and specially enacted to protect women and children and falls within the constitutional sweep of Article 15(3) reinforced by Article 39.”
As such, the High Court opined,
“If there is prima facie material on record to suggest that the parties have married or are having relationship in the nature of marriage, the court can presume in favour of the woman claiming maintenance. Since the provision under Section 125 CrPC is a measure of social justice and has been enacted to protect women, children or parents and the materials on record suggest two views, then the view in favour of women should be adopted. An order passed in an application under Section 125 CrPC does not finally determine the rights and obligations of the parties and the said section is enacted with a view to provide a summary remedy for providing maintenance to a wife, children and parents.”
Referring to various earlier pronouncements, the Court clarified,
“...Section 125 Cr.P.C. proceeds on de facto marriage and not marriage de jure. Thus, validity of the marriage will not be a ground for refusal of maintenance if other requirements of Section 125 Cr.P.C. are fulfilled… if from the evidence which is led, the Magistrate / court is prima facie satisfied regarding the performance of marriage in proceedings under Section 125 Cr.P.C. which are of summary nature, strict proof of performance of essential rites is not required.”
It was contended by the revisionist/husband that the Court should re-examine the documents as the lower court had failed to consult an expert to verify the documents. While rejecting the contention, the Court noted that in revisional jurisdiction, it cannot re-examine such records.
Reference was also given to the recent judgement of the apex court in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Deepak, where the Court has laid down that object of Section 397, CrPC (dealing with revision jurisdiction) is to set right a patent defect or an error of jurisdiction or law. As such the High Court reasoned,
“There has to be a well-founded error and it may not be appropriate for the court to scrutinise the orders, which upon the face of it bears a token of careful consideration and appear to be in accordance with law.”
Under revisional jurisdiction, the Court cannot determine the validity of dispute between the party, the High Court said. It found that the grant of maintenance from the date of application cannot be said arbitrary or against law. The quantum of maintenance also appears reasonable and appropriate, the Judge said.
As such, the maintenance order was upheld, with the Court observing,
“It is apparent that court below has considered entire relevant facts and evidence and that findings of the court below are based on evidence. No illegality, perversity or error of jurisdiction could be shown in the impugned order. The quantum of maintenance awarded by the court below can also not be said excessive or arbitrary.”