Hubby suppresses info on first wife, Supreme Court quashes marriage

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared as null and void an inter-caste marriage in April 2010 on the ground that the husband suppressed the fact of his first marriage and rejected his claim of customary divorce before marrying the second wife.

Swapnanjali Sandeep Patil had come in appeal against the Pune district judge court and the Bombay HC dismissing her divorce application on the ground that she knew about the first marriage and that there was already a customary divorce between him and his first wife. She had gone to court on realising that her husband had married without obtaining the decree of divorce from the competent court and as such he had a living spouse at the time of their marriage.

She had left the husband because of coming home in a drunken state and harassing her. Setting aside the High Court judgment of December 2014, the Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and M R Shah faulted both the trial court and the High Court for “a grave error in observing that there was a customary divorce between the husband and his first wife,” without framing the specific issue.

Neither the issue was framed nor even the husband led any evidence to prove that such a customary divorce is permissible in his caste, the Bench held the marriage with second wife as void and granted her a decree of nullity. The Bench also questioned the two courts claiming the petitioner knew about the first marriage, without framing any such issue for examination.

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