In this decision – the husband married second time after obtaining divorce by ex parte from first wife, after 4 years of ex parte decree. Later he got into a dispute with the second wife, who filed a case for maintenance, as a counter blast to which the husband sued for divorce, now in the meanwhile events take a surprising turn, the 1st wife approaches the court for setting aside her ex parte divorce, which the court allows – on being satisfied as to faulty service of summons – allows her plea, which has the direct effect of nullifying the second marriage. (This the court suggested was probably stage managed by the Husband himself). Now in the suit for maintenance filed by the wife husband – took the plea that 2nd marriage being void – the claimant is not ‘wife’ within the meaning of S.18 Hindu Adoptions & Maintenance Act, 1956 and hence not entitled.
The Trial Court fell into the trap and allowed this technical and grossly unjust plea. The High Court preferred a more equitable interpretation by looking at the status of second wife as on her date of marriage, which was that of a lawfully wedded wife, subsequents event notwithstanding – thereby acceding her claim. By doing so – it sent out a clear message – Fraud vitiates everything, and Justice be done though the heavens fall.