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Chintagunti Jagannadham Vs. Chintagunti Savithramma - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 147 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1972AP377
ActsHindu Marriage Act, 1955 - Sections 5, 13 and 25; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 100
AppellantChintagunti Jagannadham
RespondentChintagunti Savithramma
Appellant AdvocateP. Mahalakshmamma, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateM.S.R. Subrahmanyam, Adv.
Excerpt:
family - maintenance - sections 5, 13 and 25 of hindu marriage act, 1955 and section 100 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - suit for maintenance - allegation of adulteration against wife - no valid evidence to prove alleged unchastity of wife - such baseless allegations provides a valid ground for wife to claim maintenance - cruelty other than baseless allegations proved - held, wife entitled to past and future maintenance. - - 5 and 6. in this attempt, of course, he has failed......to me. there is no legal bar to such a marriage. admittedly, they have been living together as husband and wife for a very long time. the mere circumstances that they belong to different communities is not sufficient to hold that there was no marriage at all. this finding is, therefore, confirmed. even on the other question whether there was ill-treatment, cruelty and abandonment on the part of the husband justifying award of maintenance. the lower appellate court on an appreciation of evidence, has come to the conclusion against the defendant. it is vehemently contended by the learned counsel for the appellant that all that is established on evidence is that the appellant had once beaten the plaintiff and that by itself is not sufficient to hold that he was guilty of such cruelty as.....
Judgment:

1. This Second Appeal is filed by the husband against confirming judgment and decree of the Additional District Judge Visakhapatnam in A. S. No. 53 of 1968, decreeing the suit filed by his wife for past and future maintenance, and awarding a sum of R. 40/- per month and creating a charge for the said sum on the plaint scheduled property. The wife's claim for maintenance is based on the allegations of ill-treatment, cruelty and abandonment. It was also alleged that the defendant was living with another woman. She had also claimed the return of the jewels said to have been taken by the husband, The defendant's plea was that they both belonged to different castes, the wife belonged to the 'Yatha' caste while the husband belonged to 'Periki' community. and that he never married the plaintiff. It was alleged that the plaintiff in or about 1948 and that the defendant kept her as his concubine. He also denied having ever ill-treated her and as having beaten or driven her out of the house. He underwent an operation for hernia and thereafter, the plaintiff began to lead freely a life of a debauchee. She left the defendant's house on 1-5-1965 taking with her a sum of Rs. 480/- and jewels given to her by the defendant. After leaving the house of her own accord, the plaintiff continued to lead an unchaste life. For all these reasons, he refused to maintain her. He also disputed the quantum of maintenance payable to her as excessive. He prayed for the dismissal of the suit. Both the Courts below have held the marriage between the plaintiff and the defendant proved.

2. In do not see any reason to disagree with the concurrent findings of the Courts below. The contention of Mr. Y. G. Krishnamurthy, the learned Counsel for the appellant, that there could not have been any marriage between members of 'Periki' and 'Yatha' communities, does not appeal to me. There is no legal bar to such a marriage. Admittedly, they have been living together as husband and wife for a very long time. The mere circumstances that they belong to different communities is not sufficient to hold that there was no marriage at all. This finding is, therefore, confirmed. Even on the other question whether there was ill-treatment, cruelty and abandonment on the part of the husband justifying award of maintenance. the Lower Appellate Court on an appreciation of evidence, has come to the conclusion against the defendant. It is vehemently contended by the learned Counsel for the appellant that all that is established on evidence is that the appellant had once beaten the plaintiff and that by itself is not sufficient to hold that he was guilty of such cruelty as would create an apprehension in the mind of the plaintiff so as to cause a reasonable apprehension in hr that it would be harmful or injurious to live with her husband and entitle her to live separately, and demand maintenance. That again is a question of fact. In order to cause a reasonable apprehension in mind of the wife that it would be harmful or injurious to her to live with her husband, it is not necessary to prove that the husband has beaten her more than once. The ill-treatment or treating the wife with cruelty, does not lie merely in beating her. A long course of ill-treatment would ultimately result in beating. The wife may put up even with the beating but in certain circumstances, after a long course of ill-treatment, if the wife is beaten, that may create a reasonable apprehension in certain circumstances that it would be harmful or injurious for her to live with her husband. That will depend on the facts and circumstances of reach case. No circumstances have been pointed out to me by the learned Counsel for the appellant to hold that the finding of the Lower Appellate Court, in this behalf, is perverse as to warrant interference in second appeal.

3. It is also significant to note that in the written statement, the defendant made an allegation of unchastity. In fact, he alleged that his wife was freely leading a life of a debauchee. He also adduced evidence of D. Ws. 5 and 6 to substantiate his allegation. But the learned Additional District Judge. after consideration of the evidence on record, came to the conclusion that the allegation of unchastity is unfounded. It has been held by a Bench of this Court, to which I was also a party , in A. A. O. No. 314 of 1969, judgment, D/- 14-12-1970. (Andh Pra) that a petition under Section 28 of the Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights, making an unfounded allegation maliciously amounts to cruelty. It was further held:

'Nothing can be more harmful to a wife having any self-respect or decency to live with a husband who maliciously and falsely imputes unchastity or theft to her. the law does not expect the wife to wait till such time as the mental agony results in bodily or mental injury which can be provide as a fact.'

Of course, the plaintiff herself did not base her claim for maintenance on the ground that the husband had treated her with cruelty by making an unfounded allegation of unchastity as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind, that it would be harmful ad injurious to live with her husband. But the Court is surely entitled to take into consideration the subsequent events in molding the relief. The allegation of unchastity was made even at the reply notice. Ex. A-3 dated 19-5-1965, though it was not made as blatantly therein, it was made in quite certain tress in the written statement of the defendant appellant and was sought to be established by the evidence of D. Ws. 5 and 6. In this attempt, of course, he has failed. But the fact remains that he made an unfounded allegation of unchastity against his wife which justifies a claim by the wife for separate residence and maintenance.

4. Mr. Y. G. Krishnamurthy, learned Counsel for the appellant, however, contended on the basis of a Judgment of my learned Brother Gopal Rao Ekbote, J., in P. Venkatramayya v. P. Mahalakshmiah, : AIR1966AP289 that the allegation in the written statement cannot be made a ground for awarding maintenance when the wife herself had not made such an allegation in the plaint by claiming maintenance. The Judgment was considered by Bench in A. A. O. 314 of 1969 (andh Pra) and it was observed by the Bench:

'We do not understand the learned Judge as laying down that even if the wife established that the husband made false accusations of unchastity against her, she should further prove that such allegations resulted in bodily or mental injury.'

Further, there is nothing in the Judgment which lays down that the Court is not competent to take the subsequent events into consideration in awarding relief to the parties. Though the plaintiff herself had not stated in the plaint that she was entitled for separate residence and maintenance on the ground of unfounded allegation of unchastity made against her by her husband, that matter was put in issue by the husband himself. The husband also attempted to prove that allegation. The learned District Judge has given a clear finding in paragraph 9 of the Judgment s follows:-------

'The result is there is no independent evidence to prove that plaintiff has been leading an adulterous life as alleged by defendant. The plaintiff offers to live with defendant. Defendant states in the reply notice the plaintiff is not a fit person to live with him. Defendant deliberately attributed unchastity to plaintiff and further attempted to prove though not succeeded that plaintiff is living in adultery with one Babulu and another and for the purpose she left defendant's house.'

In view of the fact that the matter was put in issue and evidence has been let in and a finding adverse to the defendant haw been given this subsequent event can be certainly taken into account for awarding future maintenance. That finding of course, would not be sufficient to award maintenance for the period prior to the filing of the suit. So far as this case is concerned, in view of the fact that cruelty other than making an unfounded allegation f unchastity, has been held proved, and the finding of the Court below had been confirmed, the plaintiff would be entitled for both past and future maintenance.

5. It was finally argued that the amount of maintenance awarded is excessive. But it is clear from the evidence, that the defendant has an income of Rs. 175/- by way of salary apart from other income. He has no children. He is directed to pay only Rs. 40/- per month which is barely sufficient for the maintenance of a single person in these days of high price. There is no cross-appeal by the plaintiff. In the circumstances, the maintainer awarded cannot be said to be excessive. For all the above reasons, the Second Appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed with costs.

6. Appeal dismissed.


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