Raj Beer Singh, J., observed that:
“The object of the Section 125 CrPC being to afford a swift remedy, and the determination by the Magistrate as to the status of the parties being subject to a final determination by the Civil Court, when the husband denies that the applicant is not his wife, all that the Magistrate has to find, in a proceeding under Section 125 CrPC, is whether there was some marriage ceremony between the parties, whether they have lived as husband and wife in the eyes of their neighbours, whether children were born from the union.”
The instant revision was preferred against the order passed under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The contention that falls for consideration:
Whether respondent 2 has been able to show herself as a married wife of revisionist in order to claim maintenance from revisionist under Section 125 CrPC?
Proceedings under Section 125 CrPC. are summary proceedings. In the Supreme Court’s decision of Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v. Bidyut Prava Dixit, (1999) 7 SCC 675, it was observed that the standard of proof of marriage in a Section 125 proceeding is not as strict as is required in a trial for an offence under Section 494 IPC.
The bench expressed that it is a well-settled law that for the purposes of a proceeding under Section 125 CrPC, the factum of marriage has to be prima facie considered.
“If there is prima facie material on record to suggest that the parties have married or are having a relationship in the nature of marriage, the court can presume in favor of the woman claiming maintenance.”
Court also stated that an order passed in an application under Section 125 CrPC does not finally determine the rights and obligations of the parties and the said section is enacted with a view to providing a summary remedy for providing maintenance to a wife, children, and parents.
In the decision of S. Sethurathiuam Pillai v. Barbara, it was observed that maintenance under Section 488 CrPC, 1898 (similar to Section 125 Cr.P.C.) cannot be denied where there was some evidence on which conclusion for grant of maintenance could be reached. It was held that the order passed under Section 488 is a summary order which does not finally determine the rights and obligations of the parties; the decision of the criminal court that there was a valid marriage between the parties will not operate as decisive in any civil proceeding between the parties.
The court observed that in a proceeding for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, a Magistrate or Judge of the Family Court has to be prima facie satisfied with the marital status of the parties, as a decision under Section 125 CrPC is tentative in nature, subject to the decision in any civil proceeding, as has been held in Santosh v. Naresh Pal (1998) 8 SCC 447.
In light of the above discussions, High Court states that if from the evidence which is led, the Magistrate/Court is prima facie satisfied with regard to the performance of marriage in proceedings under Section 125 CrPC which are of summary nature, strict proof of performance of essential rites is not required.
In the instant matter, respondent 2 had submitted that her nikah was solemnized with the revisionist and out of that marriage, she gave birth to a daughter, but she was killed by the revisionist, whereas the case of the revisionist was that his nikah was never solemnized and they never lived as husband and wife together.
Limited Scope of Revisional Court
The question of whether respondent 2 was a married wife of revisionist, is a question of fact and thus, this court cannot upset the finding of the trial court by entering into re-appreciation of evidence, unless it is shown such a finding is not based on evidence or some patent error of jurisdiction is shown. In the instant case, no such eventuality could be shown. In fact, if the wife had been neglected and the wife was entitled to maintenance, the scope of interference by the Revisional Court is very limited.
Further, the Court added that in view of the evidence on record, the grant of maintenance from the date of application cannot be said arbitrary or against law. The quantum of maintenance also appeared reasonable and appropriate.
“If a party deliberately delays the proceedings for long period, such party must not be allowed to take advantage of such tactics.”
High Court found no illegality, perversity, or error of jurisdiction in the impugned order.
While parting with the decision, Court added that the Court has to keep in mind that the exercise of revisional jurisdiction itself should not lead to injustice ex facie. [Irshad Ali v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 92, decided on 08-01-2021]