Second wife can also claim alimony in some cases: Supreme Court

Supreme CourtSC ruled that a second wife would also be entitled to alimony in some cases. (IE Photo)

The Supreme Court Friday ruled that a second wife in a Hindu marriage would also be entitled to alimony in some cases. The court said if a man has kept his second wife in the dark about his first marriage, he is legally bound to provide for her and their children, although she cannot be treated as a "legally wedded wife".

Stating that the court had to further the cause of "social justice", a bench of Justices Ranjana P Desai and A K Sikri said, "Provision of maintenance would definitely fall in this category which aims at empowering the destitute and achieving social justice or equality and dignity of the individual".

While Section 125 of the CrPC envisages a claim for maintenance only by a legally wedded wife, the court said, "If this interpretation is not accepted, it would amount to giving a premium to the husband for defrauding the wife. Therefore, at least for the purpose of claiming maintenance, such a woman is to be treated as the legally wedded wife."

On its earlier rulings which held that the second wife in a Hindu marriage could not claim alimony, the court said, "The said judgment would not apply to those cases where a man marries a second time by keeping that lady in the dark about the first surviving marriage."

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