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Km. Nafees Ara Vs. Asif Saadat Ali Khan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Ref. No. 48 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1963All143; 1963CriLJ394
ActsCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) , 1898 - Sections 403 and 488; Specific Relief Act - Sections 42; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Sections 9 - Order 17, Rules 2 and 3
AppellantKm. Nafees Ara
RespondentAsif Saadat Ali Khan
Appellant AdvocateS.P. Avasthi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateFarooq Hasan, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....of a civil court is binding on a criminal court - no provision of maintenance in muslim law - decree by a civil court in favour of complainant - criminal court rejected complaint and refused to consider civil court decree - matter fully considered by civil court - magistrate must attach weigh to it and cannot be ignored. - - i would, however, like to point out that there is no prohibition either. ramlingam air1933mad187 ,is, in my opinion, clearly based on a mis-understanding of the facts. i would like to submit that the question of legal character was not directly considered. ' i would like to emphasise that the decision was given clearly stating that the declaration affects not merely the plaintiff's legal character but also affects property. ' 10. on a consideration of these..........reference to the high court recommending that the order of sri sadhu singh be set aside and the learned magistrate directed to decide the application on merits without regard to the fact of the dismissal of the previous application.2. in the reference i have heard the learned counsel for the parties, particularly sri faruq hasan who has argued for the opposite party at considerable length and has raised several points of importance.3. the first contention of the learned counsel is that admittedly km. nafis ara claims only the status of an illegitimate child. the learned counsel has referred to the mahomedan law and urges that the mahomedan law makes no provision for grant of any maintenance to an illegitimate child. ali the books on mahomedan law referred to by the learned counsel.....
Judgment:
ORDER

B.N. Nigam, J.

1. Kumari Nafis Ara through her mother Smt. Khatoon filed an application under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on 25-9-1954 in the court of Sri Farkat All Magistrate. That application was dismissed on 17-12-1954. Thereupon the applicant filed a suit in the court of Munsif South, Lucknow claiming a declaration that she was the illegitimate daughter of the respondent Asif Saadat Ali Khan. That suit was decreed. No appeal or revision was filed. The decree became final. Thereupon the petitioner, who is aged 9, filed a fresh application under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the court of the Magistrate and the application was dealt by Sri Sadhu Singh and was dismissed by him. A revision, application No. 74 of 1960, was filed in the court of the sessions Judge, Lucknow. The learned Sessions Judge has by his order dated 14-8-1961 made this reference to the High Court recommending that the order of Sri Sadhu Singh be set aside and the learned Magistrate directed to decide the application on merits without regard to the fact of the dismissal of the previous application.

2. In the reference I have heard the learned counsel for the parties, particularly Sri Faruq Hasan who has argued for the opposite party at considerable length and has raised several points of importance.

3. The first contention of the learned counsel is that admittedly Km. Nafis Ara claims only the status of an illegitimate child. The learned counsel has referred to the Mahomedan Law and urges that the Mahomedan Law makes no provision for grant of any maintenance to an illegitimate child. Ali the books on Mahomedan Law referred to by the learned counsel make, however, a specific reference to the provisions of Section 483 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I do not dispute that the Mahomedan Law makes no specific provision for the grant of maintenance to an illegitimate child against his father. I would, however, like to point out that there is no prohibition either. The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure are part of the general law of the land which, in my opinion, is, in the absence of any contradictory provision in the Mahomedan Law, as binding on Mohammedans as other citizens of this country. I am, therefore, unable to see any force in the contention of the learned counsel that because the Mahomedan Law makes no provision, the civil court had no jurisdiction to give a decree for maintenance. Further, it has to be borne in mind that the civil court has in fact not given any decree for maintenance. It has only granted a declaratory decree holding that Km. Nafis Ara is an illegitimate child of the respondent.

4. The argument of the learned counsel that the transaction between the mother of the petitioner and the respondent was immoral in character and, therefore, the courts will not give any assistance to the petitioner and the reliance placed by the learned counsel on Narayanamurti v. Ramlingam : AIR1933Mad187 , is, in my opinion, clearly based on a mis-understanding of the facts. There was no attempt to enforce the terms of any contract between Kumari Nafis Ara's mother and the respondent. The claim for the maintenance is not based on any such contract and the assistance of the court is not being sought for the enforcement of the terms of any contract of an immoral nature.

5. The learned counsel has relied on Lingappa Goundan v. Esudasan, ILR 27 Mad 13. There it was held:

'Though an illegitimate child is entitled to claim maintenance from his father under Section 488 of the Criminal Procedure Code, such claim can only be enforced during the life-time of the father and the right terminates with his death.'

This authority is not available to the learned counsel for the contention that there is no right of maintenance even against the father or that the civil court cannot grant a decree for maintenance. 1 need not repeat that in this particular case the Civil Court was not asked to grant any maintenance. In Ghana Kanta Mahanta v. Wit. Gereli, ILR 32 Cal 479, it was held:

'But apart from the Hindu Law, we should think that, upon general principles, the defendant, having begotten the child, is bound to provide for its maintenance, if that is necessary.'

It, therefore, follows that even apart from the Mahomedan Law the petitioner has a right to grant of maintenance from her father.

6. Another ground for urging that the civil court had no jurisdiction has been taken by the learned counsel. The learned counsel has urged that the civil court had no jurisdiction and, therefore the decree is a nullity and the Magistrate could ignore it. That would be so if the civil court had no jurisdiction. The learned counsel has, however, not been able to establish to my satisfaction that the civil court had no jurisdiction. Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives ample jurisdiction to the civil Court in all matters of a civil nature. It cannot legitimately be urged that the grant of maintenance is not a matter of a civil nature. Therefore, unless jurisdiction of the civil court is barred or unless the provisions of Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act bar the grant of a mere declaration there is no reason why it be held that the civil court had no jurisdiction in the matter. I concede that there are certain rulings which to some extent, support the learned counsel but it appears to me that the weight of authority is definitely against him.

7. The first ruling referred to is the case of Subad Domni v. Katiram Dome, 20 Suth WR Cri 58. There it was held, that the civil court had no jurisdiction to make a declaratory order as to the paternity of an illegitimate child, I have already referred to the decision of the Calcutta High Court in ILR 32 Cal 479 (supra). The matter came up before the Avadh Chief Court in the case of Raghubar v. Emperor, AIR 1915 Oudh 113. There it was held that the jurisdiction of a Magistrate under Section 488, Code of Criminal Procedure was merely auxiliary to that of the civil Court. It was held :

'The jurisdiction conferred on a Magistrate to settle the maintenance is as pointed out in ILR 32 Cal 479 (supra) and Deraji Malings Naika v. Marati Kaveri, ILR 30 Mad 400, only auxiliary to that possessed by the civil courts, and a Magistrate ought to take the judgment of a competent civil court into consideration, if it settles the question of relationship and finally places the matter out of the pale of discussion.'

In Venkayya v. Paidanna, ILR 46 Mad 721 : (AIR 1923 Mad 707), it was held that the Magistrate should have enforced his order under Sec, 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure no further after the civil court decree declared that the child was not his. It was held :

'There is no question of reconsidering the order of maintenance for which no provision is made in the Code, but, where the relationship on which the maintenance order is based has been declared by the final decree of a competent civil court not to exist, it is open to the person adversely affected thereby to ask the Magistrate 1.0 abstain from giving any further effect to his order of maintenance.'

This view was taken on the law as it stood before the amendment in 1923. In Mohmad Shah v. Pir Shah, AIR 193S Lah 858, it was held that a declaratory suit for a declaration that the plaintiff is the legitimate son did not lie inasmuch as the plaintiff had no personal interest in property. I would like to submit that the question of legal character was not directly considered. This matter was raised in another Lahore case to which I shall refer later.

8. The Madras High Court in the case of Kuppal Naicker v. Lakshmi Ammal : AIR1937Mad555 , held that the declaratory relief is discretionary with the court, in, the case of Purans v. T. Ammal, AIR 1937 Rang 427, it was held that a suit for a mere declaration without claiming partition was not maintainable but in the later case of U. Arzeina v. Ma Kyin Shwe, AIR 1940 Rang 298, it was held that Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act did not bar a suit for declaration of non-paternity and consequent non-liability to pay maintenance. The finding was :

'A suit for a declaration of non-paternity and of nonliability in consequence to pay maintenance is competent under Section 42 as the declaration affects not merely the plaintiff's legal character but his liability to pay the amount of maintenance in question which is property.'

I would like to emphasise that the decision was given clearly stating that the declaration affects not merely the plaintiff's legal character but also affects property. Thus Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act was held to be no bar to the declaratory relief both on the ground that the declaration was sought of the plaintiff's legal character and further that it affects property. The matter was, further clarified in the Full Bench case of the Lahore High Court of Abdul Karim v. Mt. Sarraya Begam, AIR 1945 Lah 266. Referring to Holland's book 'The Elements of Jurisprudence the learned Judges quoted with approval and then stated :

'From the foregoing quotations it will appear that a suit for a declaration that the plaintiff has got a certain status is competent under Section 42, Specific Relief Act, as being a suit for a declaration of a legal character claimed by the plaintiff. It will, further appear that legitimacy is a status. It would follow, therefore, that a suit by a plaintiff for a declaration of his or her legitimacy is competent.'

Holland in his book 'The Elements of Jurisprudence' from which a citation was made at page 271 column 1 has definitely listed illegitimacy as the 13th item in the chief varieties of status among natural persons. It would thus follow that even illegitimacy is a status amounting to a legal character and, therefore, a suit for a mem declaration is not barred even if no property is directly or indirectly involved. It is further difficult to avoid the conclusion that any such declaration will at least always involve the right to maintenance.

9. A learned Judge of the Punjab High Court in the case of Jagat Ram v. Mt. Basanti , discussing the provisions of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure held that there was no express bar with respect to suits for a declaration in the negative. It was further held:

'Thus a suit by A for declaration that B was not his wife and C was not her son through him is a suit falling within the provisions of Section 42, Specific Relief Act and is maintainable.'

10. On a consideration of these rulings as well as the bare language of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure and Section 42 of the Specific Relief Act, I am definitely of opinion that a civil suit for a declaration that the petitioner Kumari Nafis Ara was the illegitimate daughter of the respondent was competent in the civil court. I would also like to point out that the civil court decree has become final. No such objection as regards the lack of Jurisdiction of the civil court appears to have been taken in that court, not that it matters. I, therefore, hold that the civil court was competent to grant the declaration prayed for in that suit and that the civil court decree is not a nullity and cannot be ignored by the Magistrate. It is further clear that the Magistrate's jurisdiction under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is merely an auxiliary of the civil court jurisdiction and, therefore, whenever a matter is finally decided by the civil court, it will be completely wrong of the criminal court not to attach the greatest weight to that decree.

11. It was then urged by the learned counsel that the civil suit was not bona fide. 1 have had considerable difficulty in following this argument. The contention, of the learned counsel is that it was not permissible to Kumari Nafis Ara to get a decree from the civil court in order to become armed with a weapon to get the previous order of the criminal court cancelled. I do not see why any objection should be taken to the civil proceedings It is not unknown to the law that a civil court decision has to be given effect to by the criminal court. In proceedings under Section 145 of the Cods of Criminal Procedure the criminal court may decide that a particular party is entitled to retain, possession of the property in dispute. Subsequently, there may be a declaration by the civil court of the other party's title to hold the property. Then that title has to be given effect to. If the Criminal Court even in proceedings under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which are summary in character, comes to the conclusion that a particular party is not entitled to maintenance, the party concerned may certainly get a suitable declaration or even a decree from the civil court. That does not mean that the suit Is filed in the civil court with ulterior or improper motives. The matter is really within the jurisdiction of the civil court and the jurisdiction of the criminal court is, as. I have stated earlier, only auxiliary to that of the civil court. I can, therefore, see absolutely no reason for any objection to the civil suit.

12. It was then urged that the decree of the civil court was not a decree at all. Again, I have found it very difficult even to appreciate the contention of the learned counsel. The learned Sessions Judge has given some details of those proceedings in his order of reference. The respondent had contested the suit. He had got an adjournment conditional on payment of costs on the adjourned date, he did not appear nor did he pay the costs of adjournment. As. directed in the order granting adjournment, his defence was, therefore, struck oft and the court proceeded to pass the decree. The learned' counsel has urged that this is a decree under the provisions of Order XVII Rule 2 and not under the provisions of Order XVII, Rule 3 Civil Procedure Code, the contentions being that it is an ex parte decree and not a decree on merits. I am unable to see any distinction. A decree of the civil court is a decree of the civil court and unless set aside either by the same court if it is a decree under Order XVII Rule 2 or by a superior court if it is a decree under Order XVII Rule 3 Civil P. C., it is valid and has all the force of a decree. If it was a decree to which the provisions of Order XVII, Rule 2 of Civil P. C., applied, the party concerned should have asked for restoration of the suit. If it was a decree on merits then an appeal should have been preferred. In any case, it is now too late to raise this matter. A decree has been passed and it has become final. I am therefore, of opinion that there is no force in the contention of the learned counsel.

13. All these challenges to the civil court decree having been rejected, I am of opinion that the civil court had jurisdiction in the matter and that the decree passed by it is in full force.

14. The next contention of the learned counsel is that the criminal court having once rejected an application under Section 488, Criminal P. C. in the year 1954 was incompetent to entertain another application on the same allegations. I do not concede that the allegations are the same. At least in one respect the allegation must be different. In the first application the allegation must have been that in the year 1954 the respondent was not maintaining the applicant and in the second application that allegation must have related to a period several years later.

15. I am, however, not prepared to accept the contention of the learned counsel that the provisions of Section 403, Criminal P. C. apply to an application under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. An application under Section 488, Code of Criminal Procedure is not a trial and the final order is neither a conviction not an acquittal. It, therefore, follows that there is no substance in the contention of the learned counsel. On the authorities cited before me also, the learned counsel's contention is not borns out. The first case to which I may refer to is the case of Mt. Mutesari v. Nand Kumar Singh, 17 Cri LJ 106 : (AIR 1917 Cal 608). It was then held that the Magistrate had no jurisdiction to entertain a second application. In the case of In re Koyassan Kutty, 18 Cri LJ 329 : (AIR 1918 Mad 494), Mr. Justice Sadasiva Aiyar of the Madras High Court held that in the case of a discharge a second complaint was possible but should be entertained only on new facts. This case related to an offence involving a riot. In Bhagubhai Ranchhodas v. Bai Arvinda : AIR1937Cal334 , it was held that Section 369 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, was not applicable to case under Section 488 Criminal P. C. and the Magistrate had power under Section 489(2) to alter or vary his order. In A.R. Khan v. Mt. Zaitunbi, 51 Cri LJ 451 : (AIR 1950 Nag 45), a learned Judge of the Nagpur High Court held that the proceedings under Section 488, Criminal P. C., are not proceedings in a criminal trial and that the dismissal of an application in default does not amount to an acquittal. It was further held that the second application on the same facts was not barred by the provisions of Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The matter was, however, considered at greater length in the case of Ram Chand Saudagar v. Jiwan Bai . That was a case in which an order of maintenance had been granted by a court at Lyallpur in the year 1942. The amount then was subsequently raised by the same Court. Some time later, after the partition of 1947, an application under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was filed at Ludhiana and withdrawn. It was argued that the Lyallapur order granting maintenance barred a second application. The learned Judge held:

'The application would be barred only if there is any specific provision in this connection in the Code. The only provision which bars subsequent proceedings is contained in Section 403. That section bars the second trial of a person who has been convicted or acquitted of an offence, and where the conviction or acquittal is still in force. A proceeding under Section 488, Gri. P. C., cannot be regarded as a trial for an offence; nor does an order awarding allowance amount to conviction for an offence, within the meaning of Section 4(0) of the Criminal Procedure Code.'

On a consideration of the matter, it appears to me mat the provisions of Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure do not apply. An enquiry under Section 488 Cr. P. C. is not a trial and the result of the previous enquiry is neither a conviction nor an acquittal. However, I do not expect that any Magistrate would reconsider the matter without there being some change in the circumstances, to be taken notice of, but that does not mean that a second application is barred, a second application would normally not be allowed on the same facts and in the same circumstances. I, therefore, hold that there was no lack of jurisdiction in the Magistrate to whom the second application was presented by Kumari Nafis Ara.

16. The last contention of the learned counsel in this connection, is that the criminal court should decide matters and should not be affected by the civil court decree. The learned counsel's argument is that the Magistrate had exclusive jurisdiction as the Mahommedan Law makes no provision for the grant of maintenance to an illegitimate child. It is, therefore, suggested that the learned Magistrate was not only entitled to exercise his own discretion but that he was entitled to disregard the civil court decree. I have already stated that the jurisdiction of a Magistrate in this matter is only auxiliary to that of the civil court. It is the civil court which decides the revelant facts and if the civil court decides lacts taking a view different from that of the criminal court, it only behoves the Magistrate to mould remedy in accordance with the civil court decree but that does not mean that he is deprived of the discretion in the matter. He can still consider whether the civil court decree really affects the situation. That, in my opinion, is also the net result of the rulings cited before me.

17. In 20 Suth WR Cri 58 (supra) it was held that the civil court had no jurisdiction to make a declaratory decree and the Magistrate acting on the sworn testimony of the mother did not act wrongly unless it be shown that the Magistrate improperly admitted or rejected the evidence. In the case of Subhudra v. Basdeo Dube, ILR 18 All 29, it was held that an order of maintenance under Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure cannot be superseded by a declaratory decree of a civil court. The law as laid down is, if I may respectfully say so, quite correct. The order of the Magistrate is not superseded by the civil court decree. The two jurisdictions are to be exercised independently but, as stated earlier, it behoves the Magistrate to mould his remedy in the light of the civil court decree under the provisions of Section 489 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In AIR 1915 Oudh 113 (supra) it was held that the High Court was entitled to set aside the Magistrate's order in revision in view of the civil court decree thereby holding that the Magistrate could and should have moulded the remedy granted by him in the light of the civil court decree. In ILR 46 Mad 721 : (AIR 1923 Mad 707) (supra) it was held that on obtaining a decree of a civil court a person was entitled to ask the Magistrate not to give effect to his previous order. The Full Bench of the Bombay High Court in the case of Chandulal Ranchhod, AIR 1919 Bom 140 (F8), held:

'A Magistrate under Chapter 36, C. P. C. Is granted a very limited power for the sake of convenience and that only. ....In all the circumstances of the case, we have to come to the conclusion that the Magistrate should treat the application nominally under Section 489 as an application made by the wife under Section 488. The Magistrate should hear. ....and then determine, in the light of the circumstances at or about the date of the application, whether the wife is or is not entitled to an order for maintenance.'

In the case of Sharda Prasad v. Emperor : AIR1932All583 , it was held that in view of the civil suit which was decreed ex parte, the proceedings under Chapter XXXVI of the Criminal Procedure Code were not bona fide and were taken for the purpose of ignoring any decree that the civil court may pass and the fact that the civil court decree was passed ex parte or after contest was immaterial, and this was not a case in which any order under Section 488, Criminal P. C. should be passed. Discussing the effect of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights on a maintenance order passed earlier, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in the case of Fakruddin Shemsuddin Saiyed v. Bai Jenab, AIR 1944 Bom 11, held:

'It is not correct to say that the Magistrate is bound to cancel the maintenance order made in favour of the wife under Section 488 because a civil court has made arc order for restitution of conjugal rights in favour of the husband. The Magistrate is entitled, and indeed bound, to satisfy himself that the husband is bona fide prepared to give effect to the order of the civil court; that he is prepared to offer the wife a home which she ought to accept'.

18. The Full Bench case of B.N. Kashyap v. Emperor, AIR 1945 Lah 23 (FB) considers only the question of the relevancy of a judgment of the civil court, this was a proceeding requesting that criminal proceeding against B.N. Kashyap be either quashed or stayed and then the matter that carne up for consideration was that the civil court decision is not always helpful. The learned Judges held :

'The fact is that the issues in the two cases although based on the same facts (and strictly speaking even parties in the two proceedings) are not identical and there appears to be no sufficient reason for delaying the proceedings in the criminal court, which, unhampered by the civil court, is fully competent to decide the questions that arise before it for its decision'.

It was held that the civil court decisions could not 'either by themselves or in connexion with other facts' make the existence or non-existence of any fact in issue of 'relevant fact in any subsequent proceedings highly probate or improbable'. It, therefore, appears to me that this ruling can hardly be of any help to the learned counsel. In the case of Kunti Bala Dasai v. Nabin Chandra : AIR1955Cal108 it was held : --

'In such a case a Magistrate would not be justified in surrendering his own discretion and cancelling the order for maintenance under Section 489 (2) simply because the husband was armed with civil court decree for restitution of conjugal rights'.

As pointed out earlier in AIR 1944 Bom 11 (supra) theMagistrate has further to consider whether the husband sin a position to offer a real home to his wife. On aconsideration of these rulings, 1 am of opinion that thecriminal court has to certainly decide matters before iton the evidence before it, but where a matter has beenfully considered in a civil court and the civil court hadjurisdiction in the matter, the Magistrate, without surrendering his discretion, must attach the greatest weight to thedecision of the competent civil court.

19. No other point has been pressed before me.

20. I am, therefore, of opinion that the learned Magistrate was wrong in throwing out the application without paying due regard to the civil court decree. The reference is accepted. The case will go back to the learned Magistrate who will consider the matter in the light of observations above and consider whether Kumari Nafis Ara is entitled to maintenance and if so, determine the amount thereof. The fact that there has been an earlier application does not bar this application and the Magistrate would be fully justified in considering the civil court decree granted in favour of the petitioner.


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