The Punjab and Haryana high court has made it clear that a woman would be entitled to permanent alimony even though her marriage was declared illegal, null and void. The high court was of the view that she would be entitled to maintenance and permanent alimony (lump-sum) in terms of Section 25 of the Hindu Marriage Act.
In this case, marriage of an Amritsar woman was declared null and void by a local court on the grounds that she had concealed the fact of her previous marriage.
However, the HC division bench, comprising Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain and Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill, has passed these orders while hearing a petition filed by the woman.
The issue before the bench was that if the appellant-wife would be entitled to permanent alimony even if her marriage had been declared void.
Amritsar court told to decide alimony amount
In this case, the couple got married on June 11, 2012 at Amritsar under Hindu-Sikh rites and had no children. At the time of marriage, the man was a widower whereas the appellant wife who had claimed to be a spinster, was married at the time.
When the man came to know that his wife was already married, he had filed a petition for annulment of the marriage on the ground that the factum of earlier
marriage was not disclosed to him at the time when their marriage was solemnized.
Allowing the man’s plea, the court in Amritsar on September 4, 2015, declared their marriage null and void on the ground that the wife was already married.
The order of the family court attained finality as the wife did not file any appeal. She, however, filed an appeal before the high court in which her only plea was for grant of permanent alimony.
Her argument was that the marriage of a person already having a spouse may be illegal for being against the law but cannot be stated to be immoral so as to deny the right of alimony or maintenance.
The man, however, contended that the marriage in accordance with the Hindu rites with a person having a living spouse is a complete nullity in the eyes of law and she is, therefore, not entitled to any maintenance. It was also argued that once the marriage has been held to be null and void, the question of award of permanent alimony does not arise at all.
Hearing both the parties, the high court said that the petitioner’s appeal was hereby allowed “only to the extent that the question of law which has been framed by us holding that the appellant would be entitled to permanent alimony under Section 25 of the Act dehors (not including) the fact that the marriage was annulled for being void.”
The high court has now sent the matter back to the lower court in Amritsar to determine the amount to be received by the appellant as permanent alimony from her former husband.