The Tripura High Court has passed its landmark judgment on 8th July 2020 regarding widening the scope of the definition of wife for maintenance of his wife.

The ruling came under the able observation of Justice S. Talapatra that stated ‘A woman living in the society like a wife, also has the right to live with dignity along with the right of getting the means of subsistence from her husband or the man she is living with under section 125 of Crpc Act 1973. Such cases should be interpreted taking note of the changing legislative provisions to embrace the changing reality of the man-woman relationship in society.

What were the facts of the case?

In this case, it was contended by the husband with whom the woman was living with that the woman asking for maintenance had married the man during the life of her first spouse and thus there was no legal marriage between them and thus no right of maintenance.

The Family Court observed that marriage has been proved by evidence, even though the husband had his spouse living at the relevant point of time, but the fact was grossly suppressed from the woman at the time of marriage. The Court also acknowledged that the husband cannot be allowed to get the benefit of the wrongs committed by him.

What were the key rulings of the case?

a. Where a woman has lived like a wife and with them she was the belief of being treated as a wife could not be held to be living without the right of maintenance.

b.Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act also provides for the provision of maintenance for his wife similar to section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, the Protection of Domestic Violence Act 2005 is the latest legislation providing a way to accept the changing dimensions of the man-woman relationship.

c. A purposive interpretation would be extremely instrumental and evocative for achieving its object. Moreover, such interpretation will be harmonious to the constitutional empathy embedded in Article 21 of the Constitutional of India as such a woman has the right to live in a society with dignity and not for not as destitute.

Conclusion 

Thus, this ruling attempts to widen the scope of the definition of” wife” considering any woman living in the society as similar to the husband-wife relationship in the society and acknowledges the fact that in any such similar relationship of husband-wife, the scope of section 125 of Crpc Act  1973, could be widened for the giving assistance to any such women and the right of maintenance could not be denied just because there was no actual or ceremonial husband-wife relationship.

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