Bombay High Court Rules 2nd Wife Cannot Be Prosecuted For Abetment To Bigamy Without Substantive Evidence

Bombay High Court Rules 2nd Wife Cannot Be Prosecuted For Abetment To Bigamy Without Substantive Evidence

The court has quashed an FIR registered against the second wife and her father observing that the complaint was completely 'devoid of material' disclosing offence of abetment against them.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, February 03, 2024, 10:56 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The second wife cannot be prosecuted for abetment to bigamy, merely because the man married a second time despite the first marriage subsisting, ruled the Bombay High Court.

The court has quashed an FIR registered against the second wife and her father observing that the complaint was completely 'devoid of material' disclosing offence of abetment against them.

Court's observations

"The only assertion in the complaint is about the husband marrying the second wife during the subsistence of the first marriage… The mere assertion of performing a second marriage is not sufficient to proceed against the applicants without there being any allegation making out a case of abetment,” Justice MS Karnik noted on January 3. The order copy was uploaded on HC website recently.

The HC was hearing a plea by a Vikhroli-resident and her father seeking quashing of the case registered against them in 2007 by her husband’s first wife.

Details of case

According to the complaint, the first wife claimed that she married the man in March 1990 and they have three daughters. She alleged that her husband ill-treated her and forced her out of the house in July 2005. After three months, she learnt that her husband had remarried during the subsistence of his first marriage with her.

Based on her complaint, a magistrate court at Vikhroli initiated criminal proceedings against her husband for bigamy and against the second wife and her father for abetment to bigamy. Hence, they approached the HC seeking quashing of the case.

The prosecution opposed the plea contending that the second wife was liable to be prosecuted for abetment since she was the “second wife”.

“There is absolutely no whisper in the complaint as to in what manner the applicants have aided or instigated the husband and thereby abeted him in the commission of the offence,” the judge underlined while quashing the complaint against them. The court has, however, clarified that husband being the “principal offender” can be tried for bigamy.

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