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Ahmad Bux and ors. Vs. Smt. Nathoo W/O Ashiq Ali and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily;Civil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 623 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1969All75
ActsMahomedan Law; Evidence Act, 1872 - Sections 112
AppellantAhmad Bux and ors.
RespondentSmt. Nathoo W/O Ashiq Ali and ors.
Appellant AdvocateK.N. Misra, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateHargur Charan Srivastava, Adv. for Respondent No. 1
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....hindu couple - conversion of hindu wife to islam - does not invalidate marriage till the death of hindu husband - evidence of death of hindu husband - no evidence of conversion and marriage with mohamedan husband - child born out of new wedlock held legitimate. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the divisional board or the state board. the school tribunal..........government of bombay v. ganga, (1879) ilr 4 bom 330, where it was held that the conversion of a hindu wife to mahomedanism does not, ipso facto, dissolve her marriage with her husband, she cannot, therefore, during his life-time enter into any other valid marriage contract, her going through the ceremony of nikah with a mahomedan is, consequently, an offence under section 494 of the indian penal code.8. the next case cited is also a division bench case of the madras high court viz. millard in re, (1887) ilr 10 mad 218. that was a case of woman, who was baptised in infancy into the romancatholic church, but subsequently relapsed, with the rest of her family, into hinduism and was married to a hindu. her hindu husband since discarded her, and alleged that he would not have married her.....
Judgment:
ORDER

G.D. Sahgal, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution praying for a writ of certiorari for quashing an order dated the 28th of July, 1966, copy contained in annexure 6, passed by the Deputy Director of Consolidation, Hardoi on an application in revision under Section 48 of the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act.

2. The dispute relates to number of plots of which one Mangali was the sirdar. He died on the 31st of January, 1962 and after him there were rival claims with respect of them between petitioners Nos. 1 to 3 and Mohammad Bux, their brother, father of petitioner No. 4 and husband of petitioner No. 5 on the one hand and Smt. Nathoo, opposite party No. 1, on the other. While petitioners Nos. 1 to 3 and Mohammad Bux claimed themselves to be the sister's son of Mangali, Opposite party No. 1 claimed herself to be his daughter. As to opposite party No. 1, the case of the petitioners was that she was not a legitimate daughter of the deceased Mangali.

3. The facts relating to opposite party No. 1 being the daughter of Mangali are that one Rukko was the wife of one Gulab Sweeper, a Hindu. She eloped with Mangali and began to live with him. The petitioner's case is that she was only a concubine of Mangali and opposite party No. 1 being born of them is not a legitimate daughter of Mangali. On the other hand, the case of opposite party No. 1 was that Smt. Rukko embraced Islam and called herself Asghari when her marriage with Gulab stood automaticaly dissolved. She thus married Mangali according to Muslim Shariat and opposite party No. 1 being born of them was their legitimate daughter.

4. Proceedings for mutation relating to the plots in dispute after the death ,of Mangali started in the Court of the Tah-sildar who decided against opposite party No. 1. There was an application in revision before the Additional Collector and that was dismissed. Opposite party No. 1 then went up in revision before the Additional Commissioner but in view of notification being issued relating to the village under Section 4 of the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act, those proceedings were stayed.

5. Before the consolidation authorities the objection under Section 9 of the Consolidation Act was decided by the Consolidation Officer in favour of the petitioners. Opposite party No. 1 went up in appeal and the Assistant Settlement Officer, Con jlidation, dismissed that appeal,She then went up in revision. The Deputy Director, Consolidation, held that Smt Rukko after leaving Gulab, a Hindu, with whom she was originally married embraced Islam and on her embracing Islam her marriage with Gulab stood automatically dissolved. He further held that though there was no direct proof of her conversion from Hinduism to Islamic faith, from a long course of conduct the conclusion was that she must have been converted to Islam. She changed her name also from Rukko to Asghari. It was in these circumstances that he held that her marriage with Gulab stood dissolved. Again, there was also no direct evidence of marriage between her with Mangali in accordance with Islamic law, but as a result of long course of conduct on account of their being treated as husband and wife and her being described by him as his wife on various occasions, he held that she must have been married to him under the Shariat. Opposite party No. 1 was, in these circumstances, held by him to be a legitimate daughter of Mangali and as such entitled to the plots. The revision was accordingly allowed by an order dated the 28th of July, 1966, It is that order which is sought to be quashed in these proceedings.

6. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioners cited a number of authorities to show that even though Srimati Rukko might have embraced Islam her marriage with Gulab could not stand dissolved and as Islam does not allow polyandry she could not even under the Shariat marry Mangali and be his wife. She was at the most living in a state of concubinage with Mangali. Her marriage tie with Gulab had not been dissolved and any child born of them must be held to be an illegitimate child. The Deputy Director has, according to the argument of the learned counsel, committed a manifest error of law in holding that she was a legitimate child of Mangali.

7. The authorities that were cited on behalf of the petitioners are :

The first case cited is a Division Bench case of the Bombay High Court, viz. the Government of Bombay v. Ganga, (1879) ILR 4 Bom 330, where it was held that the conversion of a Hindu wife to Mahomedanism does not, ipso facto, dissolve her marriage with her husband, she cannot, therefore, during his life-time enter into any other valid marriage contract, her going through the ceremony of Nikah with a Mahomedan is, consequently, an offence under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code.

8. The next case cited is also a Division Bench case of the Madras High Court viz. Millard in re, (1887) ILR 10 Mad 218. That was a case of woman, who was baptised in infancy into the RomanCatholic Church, but subsequently relapsed, with the rest of her family, into Hinduism and was married to a Hindu. Her Hindu husband since discarded her, and alleged that he would not have married her if he had known that she had been baptised. She was subsequently readmitted into the Roman Catholic Church and married by a priest to a Roman Catholic Christian during the life time of her Hindu husband. It was held that her marriage with the Hindu husband was subsisting and valid at the time of her Christian marriage; that she was guilty of the offence of bigamy and that the priest was guilty of abetting that offence. This case does not relate to a woman who was converted to Islam and is thus not a case exactly in point though it does indicate that by the conversion of a Hindu wife to another religion her marriage with her Hindu husband does not automatically stand dissolved.

9. We now come to a case of the Calcutta High Court, viz., In the matter of Ram Kumari, (1891) ILR 18 Cal 264 which was also heard by a Division Bench. In that case a Hindu woman was married according to Hindu rites to a Hindu of the same caste. Subsequent to that marriage she became a convert to Mahomedanism and then married a Mano-medan. She was charged with and convicted of an offence under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. It was held that there was no authority in Hindu Law for the proposition that an apostate is absolved from all civil obligations, and that so far as the matrimonial bond is concerned, such a view would be contrary to the spirit of that law, which regards it as indissoluble and as such the marriage between her and her Hindu husband under the Hindu Law was not dissolved by her conversion to Mahomedanism. It was further held that as the validity of the second marriage depended on the Maho-medan Law and as that law does not allow a plurality of husbands, it would be void or valid according as the first marriage was or was not subsisting at the time it took place.

According to certain authorities cited before that Bench when the wife becomes a convert to the Musalman faith, and the husband is an unbeliever, the Magistrate is to call upon him to embrace Islam, and if he does so, the woman continues his wife, but if he refuses, the Magistrate must separate them; and if the wife embrace the Mahomedan faith in a foreign country, and the husband is an unbeliever, separation takes place on the expiration of three terms of. the wife's courses. That was, however, not a case when the wife embraced Islam in a foreign country. The woman had not given any notice to her former husband nor had she sought the intervention ofthe Courts of Justice as she might have done by instituting a suit after notice to the husband for a declaratory decree that under the Mahomedan law, which was her personal law since her conversion, her former marriage was dissolved and that she was competent to marry again. In the circumstances the rule of Mahomedan Law cited before the Court was not given effect to.

10. This case supports the petitioners when it is urged on their behalf that the marriage of Srimati Rukko with Gulab who subsequently began to call herself Srimati Asghari did not stand dissolved automatically on her conversion to Islam and as she continued to be the wife of Gulab, opposite party No. 1, could not be a legitimate child of Mangali from her.

11. We now come to a case of the Lahore High Court viz. Mt. Nandi v. The Crown, ILR 1 Lah 440 = (AIR 1920 Lah 379) which has been decided by a single Judge, where the accused, Mussammat Nandi, alias Zainab, the wife of the complainant, a Chamar. changed her religion and became a Musalman, and a month and four days later married Mussalman named Rukan Din. She was charged with an offence under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code and was held to be guilty. The conviction was upheld in revision by Abdul Raoof, J. who held that the mere fact of her conversion to Islam did not dissolve the accused's marriage with the complainant which could only be dissolved by a decree of a Court. The following passage from Ameer Ali's Muhammadan Law, Volume II at page 437 was cited in that case :--

'Where the parties are scripturalists and the wife becomes a convert to Islam the same procedure would be followed, viz., if the conversion takes place in a country subject to the laws of Islam, the faith will be offered for acceptance to the husband and on his refusal the judge will make a decree for separation or cancellation of the marriage.'

There had been no decree of this kind In the case and the learned Judge pointed out that it could not be denied that India was par-ul-Islam, where Muhammedan Law is administered. Therefore, dissolution of marriage could not have taken place in the case without a decree of Court. The two cases cited earlier, viz., (1879) ILR 4 Bom 330 and (1891) ILR 18 Cal 264 where referred to and followed.

12. The last case on which reliance was placed by the learned counsel is a single Judge case of the Calcutta High Court, viz., Sayade Khatoon v. M. Obadiah, (1945) 49 Cal WN 745 where it was held that a marriage solemnized in India according to one personal law cannot be dissolved according to another personal law, simply because one of the parties has changed his or her religion. It wasa case for a declaration under Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act that the plaintiff's marriage to the defendant had been dissolved and that the plaintiff had regained the status of an unmarried woman. The plaintiff's case was that she and the defendant were both members of the Jewish Community and she was married to the defendant according to Jewish rites at a synagogue in Calcutta. The marriage, however, was not consummated and the defendant deserted her. She became a convert to Islam and was received into Islamic faith in the presence of the Imam of the Nakhoda Mosque in Calcutta. Thereafter she wrote several letters to her husband calling upon him to be so good as to embrace Islam but no heed was paid by him. It was in these circumstances that she had filed the suit. Her suit was dismissed on the grounds already referred to above.

13. On the other hand, learned counsel for opposite party No. 1 has relied on another authority of the Calcutta High Court also a single Judge case viz.. Musst. Ayesha Bibi v. Subodh Ch. Chakravarty, 49 Cal WN 439 = (AIR 1949 Cal 436) which has been specifically dissented from in the above case. In this case it has been pointed out that while the Hindu Law does not lay down that upon one spouse forsaking the religion, the marriage is dissolved, it does not also lay down that such marriage is not dissolved. British India, as it then was, according to the learned Judge, was not a country under Islamic rule and presentation of Islam to the unconverted spouse by the Kazi was not necessary. The position under the Mahomedan Law as administered in British India according to the view of the learned Judge was that after conversion of the wife, the marriage is automatically dissolved after a fixed period of time either by the expiration of three menstrual periods of the wife, or, alternatively, in certain circumstances, after the lapse of three months, unless the husband adopts the Mulim faith before the expiration of the period.

14. In view of this authority the suggestion of the learned counsel on behalf of opposite party No. 1 was that it was not necessary to decide as to which of the two views was correct. It was sufficient, according to his submission, for the purpose of deciding, the case to say that the point raised was not free from doubt and difficulty and if the Deputy Director had taken a view which is supported by a judgment on which opposite party No. 1 relies, it cannot be said that he has committed a manifest error of law so that his order becomes liable to be quashed by a writ of certiorari.

15. It is, however, not possible to ac-cept this submission. If the view for which the learned counsel for the peti-tioners has found support in a long trend of authority is correct, namely, that the marriage of Smt. Rukko (later on Smt. Asghari) with Gulab could not automatically be dissolved after a fixed period of time by accepting Islam, the question still would arise as to whether Gulab had died before Smt. Asghari could be said, after accepting Islam, to have been married to Mangali and whether opposite party No. 1 Smt. Nathoo was born before they were married or after they were married. If the marriage of Smt. Rukko was not automatically dissolved on her accepting Islam, it would certainly be dissolved on the death of Gulab and if Smt. Rukko, who subsequently became Smt. Asghari after accepting Islam, married Mangali and opposite party No. 1 was born after that marriage, opposite party No. 1 would be the legitimate daughter of Mangali.

16. If the other view, for which support has been found by the learned counsel for opposite party No. 1, as to the dissolution of the marriage tie between Gulab and Smt. Rukko is correct then it will still have to be decided as to whether Smt. Rukko accepted Islam after having remained in the concubinage of Mangali for some time or she accepted Islam as soon as she was enticed away by him and was married to Mangali soon after the expiry of the period of time, referred to above, and whether Smt. Nathoo, opposite party No. 1, was born when she was living in a state of concubinage with Mangali or she was born after her mother had been converted to Islam and her marriage tie with Gulab had been dissolved and she had been married with Mangali according to Islamic Laws. The long course of conduct of Mangali and Smt. Asghari of treating themselves as husband and wife and being accepted as such in society and also Mangali recognising Smt. Asghari as his wife too would not be of much help in the case, for it would at the most lead to a presumption if the marriage of Smt. Rukkoo as Smt. Asghari with Gulab stood dissolved on her accepting Islam, that they were husband and wife on the date the matter actually came up for consideration, there being no presumption that they must have been husband and wife on the date opposite party No. 1 was conceived of their union. The view of the law taken by Ormond, J.. in Ayesha Bibi's case, 49 Cal WN 439 = (AIR 1949 Cal 436) (supra), however, does not appear to be correct for not only is against the long trend of authority, already referred to above, the premises on which it is based, with respect also do not lead to the conclusion arrived at by the learned Judge.

17. In the first place, there does not seem to be any valid reason why the learned judge should have appliedthe law which is applicable to cases where the wife adopts Mussalman faith in a foreign country : whether British India as it then was, Dar-ul-Islam or Dar-ul-Harb. the anology of party to marriage adopting Islamic faith in a foreign country in which case the cutting off of the marrige tie is suspended for the completion of three menstrual periods and thereafter if the other party also adopts the faith before their completion, the marriage remains subsisting, does not apply.

18. Secondly, the learned Judge has taken note of a number of considerations as to why the marriage on such conversion after the expiry of the period, above stated, should stand dissolved.

19. He says that the husband has no right of cohabitation with his wife after her conversion into Islam since the cohabitation of a Hindu with a non-Hindu was not allowed. He was. probably impressed by a case before him to the effect that the parties in that case were Brahmins. He has not cited any authority under which it may be said that cohabitation of a Hindu with a non-Hindu was not allowed.

20. Then he pointed out that the sacraments, which are generally performed by married parties under the Hindu Law and religion, could not be performed by the wife and the husband was not entitled to ask her to do so. But, does it mean that on that account the marriage should stand dissolved?

21. Again, regarding the preparation of his food, the judge found that she could no longer take any part in this nor could the husband ask her to do so and that he was unequivocally prohibited from taking any food prepared by her. Here again, this does not appear to be a consideration germane to the issue as to whether such a woman ceases to be the wife of a person to whom she is married.

22. Then he goes on to point out that the future children the wife may have by a later Mohammedan spouse would not be entitled to be maintained by the Hindu husband. This argument the learned Judge has advanced because he thinks that under the Mahomedan Law the marriage of such a woman with a Mahomedan would be valid and her marriage with her Hindu husband would stand dissolved. This, to my mind, means begging the question, because, the question to be determined is as to whether the earlier marrige with the Hindu husband stands dissolved.

23. Then, as to the maintenance of the wife, he says that under the Hindu Law if the wife deserts her husband, the husband ceases to have any liability to maintain her. He may not be under a liability to maintain her, if this position is accepted, but does it sever the marriage tie?

24. On the whole, therefore, I am not satisfied, with respect, that the learned Judge was right in holding that the marriage in such a case would stand dissolved after the expiration of a certain fixed period on the conversion of the wife to Islam. That view, therefore, to my mind, appears to be manifestly erroneous' ana cannot be accepted.

25. Even if the view that the marriage tie of Smt. Rukko (later on Smt. Asghari) did not stand dissolved with Gulab on her conversion to Islam is correct, as I have held it to be correct, the question would still arise whether it could be said that opposite party No. 1 Smt. Nathoo could not be the legitimate child born, of Mangali and Smt. Asghari.

26. If Gulab died some time after Smt. Rukko left him and the latter got converted to Islam and married Mangali and Smt. Nathoo was born of that marrige then though the marriage of Smt. Rukko with Gulab did not stand dissolved on her conversion to Islam, it stood dissolved on his death and Smt. Nathoo would, in the circumstances, be a legitimate child of Mangali and Asghari. It may be that if there is no evidence of the actual conversion of Smt. Rukko to Islam and her marriage with Mangali in accordance with the Shariat and there is evidence that Gulab had died, there will be a presumption from their long course of conduct that Mangali and Asghari were husband and wife, but that presumption would arise only on the date when the ques-tion is considered and not on the date when Smt. Nathoo was conceived. For that, the matter has to be investigated into. In the circumstances, even if the view of the Deputy Director is wrong that the marriage tie between Gulab and Rukko stood dissolved on her conversion to Islam, the matter has to be investigated further to find out whether opposite party No. 1 could still be the legitimate daughter of Mangali.

27. Thus the marriage tie between Gulab and Smt. Rukko (Smt. Asghari) did not stand dissolved automatically after a fixed period on the conversion of Smt. Rukko to Islam. It however, stood dissolved on the death of Gulab. After the death of Gulab she was free to marry Mangali, if she became a Mahomedan and married Mangali and if Smt. Nathoo, opposite party No. 1, was born of that union, she would be their legitimate child. The Deputy Director, therefore, should have decided the case in the light of these observations.

28. Altogether, therefore, the order of the Deputy Director of Consolidation has to be quashed, who has to decide the question afresh in the light of the obser-vations made above.

29. The petition is accordingly allowed with costs and the order of the DeputyDirector of consolidation dated the 28thof July, 1966 (copy contained in annexure6) quashed, who shall decide the matteragain in accordance with law.


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