V.S. Kotwal, J.
1. The wife moves the Criminal Court for maintenance under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. According to her, she was married as per Hindu Religious Rites. She married the petitioner herein as per Hindu Rites at Dongargaon in Sangola Taluka of Solapur District. This event occurred about 30 years back and since then the spouses were staying together for nearly 23 years in house at Bombay. According to her, the husband had kept a mistress by name Ranjanabai and he was also indulging in ill-treating her and had actually deserted her. She has lodged certain complaints with the police and was also medically treated. Ultimately, it reached a point of no return as according to her the husband drove her from the house about four years back since when she has been staying with her sister in Sion locality.
2. It is on these allegations that the application was filed. She further contended that the husband was getting about Rs. 2000/- as his pay as he was employed in Tata Oil Mill. She, therefore, claimed maintenance at the rate of Rs. 500/- per month from the husband. This application is the subject matter of Case No. 212/N of 1979 before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, 30th Court, Kurla. The petitioner herein is the husband while the first respondent is the wife.
3. Resisting the application the husband came out with a bold statement that he never married the first respondent and the contrary claim in that behalf is false. According to him, the first respondent was staying as a sub-tenant in one of the rooms where he was originally residing and after he had shifted he demanded the lady to vacate the premises. However, the first respondent, according to him, claimed an exorbitant amount for vacating the premises and on his refusal she filed the false claim about she being legally married wife and falsely claimed maintenance. According to him, he was getting about Rs. 800/- per month at the relevant time.
4. The learned Magistrate on the basis of the evidence led before him recorded a finding that the first respondent was the legally wedded wife of the petitioner ; that they stayed together as husband and wife for nearly 23 years; that thereafter the husband kept one Ranjanabai as his mistress and started ill-treating the first respondent though he was obliged to do so. As regards the quantum of maintenance, the learned Magistrate fixed it at Rs. 300/- per month. The petitioner-husband takes exception to that order in this petition.
5. Shri. D.S. Mane, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, mainly canvassed two points, namely, that it is not established that the first respondent is the petitioner's wife and secondly there is no evidence that she was earlier point to the effect that the first respondent was already married and, therefore, she was not entitled to maintenance from the petitioner.
6. It must be observed at the threshold that there is a pure process of appreciation of evidence on which basis & finding of fact has been arrived at by the trial Court. The evidence of the first respondent and on Waman, who is the petitioner's brother, has been believed by the trial Court on its own merits. It would, therefore, be not permissible for this Court to reopen the entire evidence for a fresh assessment in a revisional jurisdiction. This is the first hurdle which the petitioner had come across. However, to ensure that no injustice has been caused, I have perused the relevant record with the assistance of the learned counsel for the petitioner and I find no reason to depart from the finding of the fact recorded by the trial Court.
7. It is true that the petitioner has claimed that the first respondent is not his wife, much less a legally wedded wife. He has put-forth the claim that she was inducted as a sub-tenant and his refusal to satisfy his demands for vacating the premise has prompted her to make a false claim against him. It is an accepted position that the first respondent was staying in the same hut for nearly 23 years. It is, therefore, very difficult to accept that she was treated as a sub-tenant and furthermore it is almost impossible to conceive that it is after 23 years that she thought of making a false claim and that too claiming herself to be the legally wedded wife of the petitioner. On the Contrary, she has asserted that the marriage ceremony was performed as per Hindu Rites at village Dongargaon in Solapur District. There is nothing much in her cross-examination to discredit the witness on the point. The matter, however, does not rest there is as much as there is a positive evidence of Waman who is no other than the petitioner's real brother who has fully supported the wife and asserted that the marriage ceremony was performed and she is the legally wedded wife of the petitioner. Shri Mane submits that Waman was in tender age at that time. He was then studying in the second standard. However the imprint of such an occasion regarding the marriage of the brother would not become hazy even by passage of time and at that time and at his age he was able to understand the implication of the situation. There is equally nothing in his cross-examination to dis-credit the witness and merely suggesting that he was not on good terms, the petitioner would not carry conviction. Shri Mane the learned Counsel, however, submits that he has married a relation of the first respondent. On the contrary, that circumstances goes against the petitioner inasmuch as Waman has asserted that his marriage was settled by the first respondent herself with the approval of the petitioner and in that marriage also the first respondent was functioning herself as the wife of the petitioner. The very fact that the first respondent took prominent part in arranging the marriage of Waman is a circumstance in favour of the finding about the marriage between the petitioner and the first respondent. There is apparently no reason as to why the brother should depose against the brother. The evidence of these two witnesses has been rightly relied upon by the trial Court.
8. There are certain documents produced on record to corroborate their substantive evidence. The first respondent has been declared as the petitioner's wife in the allotment form for securing house accommodation which form normally must have been filled by the petitioner. Shri Many, however, submits that the petitioner is illiterate and he has merely put thumb impression while it was the first respondent who herself filed the form. There is no reason at that time as to why she has that false the information a styling herself as the petitioner's wife. The Ration Card also mentions the first respondent as the petitioner's wife. Then in the Voters List she is described as the petitioner's wife. There is a receipt of the year 1979 for purchase of certain articles in the name of the first respondent. Therein also she has styled herself as the petitioner's wife. These documents has been rightly relied upon by the Court below.
9. The totality of the substantive evidence read in the context of the documents and further read in the conduct of the parties make the position quite clear against the petitioner and in favour of the first respondent. The finding of fact that the first respondent is the lawfully wedded wife of the petitioner has thus been rightly arrived at and cannot be successfully assailed.
10. I may incidentally observe that on the showing of the petitioner himself there is a credential to the effect that he had married not less than five woman one after another though he had given customary divorce to three of them, one died due to burns and one had mysteriously left and according to him on his own showing he had thereafter married Ranjanabai who figures in the first respondent's evidence as the petitioner's mistress. The circumstances are more probable in favour of the first respondent's case having regard to these impressive credentials of the petitioner.
11. It was then contended by Shri. Mane, the learned Counsel that the wife has admitted that she had married one person during her child-hood whereafter a daughter was born and that daughter has now been married and, therefore, according to the learned Counsel first respondent's marriage with the petitioner being the second one during the subsistence of the first marriage, she forfeits her rights to get any maintenance. The learned Magistrate has rejected that contention and rightly so. Significantly, the wife has not been asked a single question as to what happened to that marriage and thus she had not been given an opportunity either to accept or deny about the subsistence of the first marriage. It cannot be overlooked that even on the admission of the petitioner the first respondent is staying in that hut all alone and not with any other person much less with her previous husband for nearly 27 years during which period the whereabouts of the at all. Under the circumstances, the petitioner cannot be permitted to submit that the first respondent is not entitled to any maintenance. The legal proposition as sought to be relied upon by the learned Counsel need not be re-stated as it can be accepted. However, it is not covered by the facts of the instant case particularly having regard to the conduct and the past history of the petitioner it would be difficult to encourage such a technical objection being up-held in the absence of adequate data. He has even gone to the extent of denying his marriage with the lady. No further comments are necessary.
12. Shri. Mane, the learned Counsel, did not offer any comments regarding the quantum of maintenance though ultimately he submitted that the petitioner has now retired and therefore his source of income has reduced. The learned Magistrate observed that the petitioner did not bring any material about the nature of salary or pay or income which was then at his own knowledge and, therefore, had fixed Rs. 300/- per month as the petitioner accepted that he was getting Rs. 800/- per month. It would be difficult to take stock of the situation in this proceeding on the allegation that the petitioner's income has now reduced since the Code makes a provision for moving the trial Court if there is a change of circumstance in the matter of fixing of quantum of maintenance. This point, therefore, need not detain us.
13. Under the circumstances, there is no substance in this petition, Rule is discharged. Interim stay granted earlier stands vacated.