Yashoda Nandan, J.
1. This is an appeal by the husband arising out of a petition under Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act hereinafter referred to as the Act.
2. The material facts giving rise to this appeal are that the appellant presented a petition under Section 27 of the Act seeking divorce from his wife Smt. Chandrawati. who figures as a respondent before me. The appellant Sri Aulvin V. Singh and Smt. Chandrawati, respondent, are admittedly Christians and they were married in a Christian Church according to Christian rites on the 2nd May, 1957. The appellant alleged that they lived happily together as husband and wife till the 5th September, 1964, when all of a sudden the respondent for no rhyme or reason went away to her father's place. It was alleged that the appellant awaited her return for a few months but when she did not return back to the matrimonial home he made all efforts to bring her to his place but in vain. The petition was founded on the allegation of desertion by the wife without any cause for more than three years. The appellant prayed for a decree for divorce and dissolution of marriage.
3. The respondent admitted that she had been married to the appellant according to Christian rites in a Christian Church on the 2nd May, 1957. She admitted that she had lived happily with her husband for a few years but asserted that thereafter the appellant, started ill-treating her because she had failed to bear any child to him. Her barrenness, according to the respondent, displeased the appellant who started beating her off and on. It was pleaded by the respondent that the appellant deprived her of the marriage-ring and the marriage-certificate which she had received at the time of the parties marriage and ultimately on the 5th September, 1964, after giving her a thrashing, aided by his younger brother threw her out of his house commanding her not to return again. According to the respondent, she was in consequence compelled to take shelter at her father's house. The respondent denied that her husband had ever made attempts to take her back from her father's house. She claimed that she had never deserted her husband and pleaded that she was prepared to live with the appellant as his wife provided he no longer ill-treated and beat her. It was contended that since the parties were Christians and had been married under the provisions of the Indian Christian Marriage Act (Act No. XV of 1872), the petition for divorce should have been filed under Section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act (IV of 1869) and the petition under Section 27 of the Act was not maintainable.
4. The trial Court framed the following issues:--
'(1) Whether the respondent has deserted the petitioner without any cause for more than three years immediately preceding the presentation of the present petition If so its effect?
(2) Is the petition not maintainable as framed ?'
Both the issues were decided by the learned District Judge, Dehra Dun, against the appellant. It was held that as the evidence exists on record it could not be said that the respondent had herself left the roof of 'her husband's house, the fact of the matter being that the appellant himself had turned her out of his house because she had not borne any child and he wanted to remarry and so started troubling the respondent. The trial Court recorded a finding that it was the husband who had made the life of his wife miserable by neglecting her and beating her off and on and ultimately on the 6th September, 1964, forcibly turned her out of the matrimonial home and it was then that the respondent went to live at her father's house. On Issue No. 2, it was held that the scheme of the Act disclosed that its provisions will apply only to those cases where marriage had been solemnized under the Act or where marriages celebrated under other forms have been registered under the Act. The view was taken that since the parties had neither been married in accordance with the provisions of the Act nor had their marriage been registered under Section 15 of the Act, the appellant was not entitled to sue for divorce of his wife under Section 27 of the Act. In the result the petition was dismissed. Aggrieved by the decree of the trial Court, the appellant has appealed.
5. Learned Counsel for the appellant firstly contended that the view taken by the Court below that the petition under Section 27 of the Act was not maintainable is legally incorrect and unsustainable. In support of his contention, he invited my attention to Sections 24 and 25 of the Act which both commence with the word 'any marriage solemnized under this Act.' These sections provide for the grounds on which marriages solemnized under the Act may be declared a nullity by means of a decree. It was submitted that in contradistinction to Section 24 and 25, Section 27 does not say that a petition for divorce under that provision can be made only when the marriage has been solemnized under the Act. Learned counsel relied upon a decision of the Rajasthan High Court in Chistopher Andrew Neelakantan v. Mrs. Anne Neelkantan, (AIR 1959 Raj 133). The material facts giving rise to that decision were that the appellant who was the husband and the petitioner in the District Court of Jodhpur, had filed a petition for divorce of his wife under the Act. The case of the husband was that he was a citizen of India and an officer of the Indian Air Force and was posted at Jodhpur for several years preceding the date of the presentation of the petition. It was alleged that the appellant and the respondent were married in England in 1955. Among other allegations, it was stated that when the appellant wanted the respondent to come over to India and live with him as his wife, she flatly refused. The petition was principally based on allegations of desertion by the wife. The learned District Judge bf Jodhpur summarily dismissed the petition on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter by reason of Section 31 of the Act. On appeal by the husband, I. N. Modi, J. held that the question of jurisdiction of the Court had to be determined by applying principles of Private International Law. In this view of the matter, the learned Judge came to the conclusion that the view taken by the District Judge was incorrect and he had jurisdiction to entertain the petition. One of the contentions which appears to have been raised before the Rajasthan High Court was to the effect that since the parties had not been married under the provisions of the Act a petition for divorce was not maintainable under the Act. It seems to have been urged that if the parties were Christians, a petition for divorce at the instance of the husband could have been filed only under the provisions of the Indian Divorce Act (Act No. IV of 1869). The question was of importance because while desertion by the wife is a good ground for divorce under the Act, it is not a valid ground for divorce in the case of petition by the husband under Act No. IV of 1869. The contention was repelled by I. N. Modi, J., who held as follows:--
'I may point out, however that the Act of 1954 has been given a very wide application by the Legislature and it extends to the whole of' India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir and has also been given an extra territorial effect inasmuch as it applies to Indian citizen domiciled in India but who may be living outside.
It may also be pointed out in this connection that the preamble of the Act shows that so far as divorce is concerned, the Act is all embracing and would govern the dissolution of all marriages irrespective of the consideration whether the marriage is of the special form envisaged in the Act and whether it has been registered under the Act or not. In this view of the matter, I can see nothing in the Act of 1954 which would exclude the application thereof to the case of the petitioner, no matter that the provisions of the Act of 1869 in this respect are some what narrower.'
With profound respect to the learned Judge who decided Chistopher Andhrew Neelakantan (supra), I am unable to agree with the view taken. Our country is inhabited by persons professing different faiths. We have consequently side by side existing different laws relating to marriages, divorce and dissolution of marriages applicable to persons of different religions. The Indian Christian Marriage Act (Act XV of 1872) and the Indian Divorce Act (Act IV of 1869) deal with the law of marriage and divorce for Christians. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce 'Act, 1936 (Act III of 1936) is concerned with the marriage and divorce among Parsis domiciled in this country. Marriages of Mohamedans and divorces between them are governed not only the Shriyat law but also by the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1936. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (Act XXV of 1955) similarly provides for the essential qualifications of those who are married under the provisions of that Act, the basic formalities to be undergone by those entering into matrimony, the conditions under which restitution of conjugal rights can be claimed, the grounds on which a marriage can be declared a nullity as also the manner and the ground on which a marriage under Act XXV of 1955 may be dissolved.
6. In the year 1954 the Indian Parliament enacted the Act (No. 43 of 1954). While the other Acts mentioned earlier dealt with the marriages among persons professing certain religions between parties irrespective of their religious beliefs. The various Acts mentioned above either individually or supplementary by some other allied enactment (e.g. Act XV of 1872 and Act IV of 1869) are self contained with respect to matter concerned with qualifications of parties entering into matrimony in a particular form as well as regarding grounds for dissolution of marriages, divorces etc. Section 15 of the Act of 1954 throws considerable light on the question raised before me with regard to the maintainability of the petition presented by the appellant under Section 27 of the Act. That provision runs as follows:--
'Any marriage celebrated, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, other than a marriage solemnized under the Special Marriage Act, 1872 (3 of 1872), or under this Act, may be registered under this Chapter by a Marriage Officer in the territories to which this Act extends if the following conditions are fulfilled, namely :--
(a) a ceremony of marriage has been performed between the parties and they have been living together as husband and wife ever since;
(b) neither party has at the time of registration more than one spouse living;
(c) neither party is an idiot or a lunatic at the time of registration;
(d) the parties have completed 'the age of twenty-one years at the time of registration;
(e) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationships :
Provided that in the case of marriage celebrated before the commencement of this Act, this condition shall be subject to any law, custom, or usage having the force of law governing each of them which permits of a marriage between the two; and
(f) the parties have been residing within the district of the Marriage Officer for a period of not less than thirty days immediately preceding the date on which the application is made to him for registration of the marriage.'
Reference may also be made to Section 18 which is as follows:--
'Subject to the provisions contained in Sub-section (2) of Section 24, where a certificate of marriage has been finally entered in the marriage Certificate Book under this chapter, the Marriage shall, as from the date of such entry, be deemed to be marriage solemnized under this Act, and all children born after the date of the ceremony of marriage (whose names shall also be entered in the Marriage Certificate Book) shall in all respects be deemed to be and always to have been the legitimate children of their parents :
Provided that nothing contained in this section shall be construed as conferring upon any such children any rights in or to the property of any person other than their parents in any case where, but for the pass-in of this Act, such children would have been incapable of possessing or acquiring any rights by reason of their not being the legitimate children of their parents.'
These two provisions quoted above make it clear that apart from those whose marriages have been performed under the provisions of the Act of 1954 even those whose marriages have been solemnized either before or after the commencement of the Act of 1954 in any other form or under any other enactment may get their marriages registered under Section 15 of the Act, provided the conditions of that provision are satisfied and in such an event the marriage shall, as from the date of entry in the 'Marriage Certificate Book', be deemed to have been solemnized under the Act of 1954 on account of the legal fiction introduced by Section 18. It is obvious that after a marriage solemnized in a form other than the one contemplated by the Act has been registered under Section 15 because of the deeming clause in Section 18, parties thereto are entitled to take recourse to Section 27 of the Act. The reason why Section 27 of the Act unlike Sections 24 and 25 thereof does not contain the words 'any marriage solemnized under this Act' is not that Section 27 was intended to apply to marriages performed under other enactments but because the benefit of it was made available even to those whose marriage though not solemnized under the Act was registered under Section 15 and thus deemed to have been under the Act by operation of Section 18. If it had been contemplated that parties who have undergone marriage under any of the other enactments mentioned above can sue for divorce under Section 27 of the Act of 1954, it was wholly redundant for the legislature to have enacted Sections 15 and 18 of the Act as extracted above. Sections 15 and 18, to my mind, disclose an intention on the part of the legislature that unless a marriage solemnized in a form other than that prescribed by the Act of 1954 has been registered in accordance with Section 15 of the Act, the parties to such a marriage will not be governed by any of the provisions of the Act.
7. For the reasons given above, I agree with the view taken by the Court below that the petition presented by the appellant under Section 27 was not maintainable since the parties had neither entered into marriage under the Act of 1954 nor had their marriage been registered under Section 15 of the Act.
8. Learned counsel for the appellant contended that in any case the mere fact that in the petition it was mentioned that it was one under Section 27 of the Act of 1954 did not justify the Court below dismissing the petition because it could have been treated as a petition under Section 10 of Act No. IV of 1869. This submission is also, in my opinion, devoid of substance. It has been noticed earlier that the appellant's petition was based on ground of desertion by the wife for a period of more than three years. Under Section 10 of Act IV of 1869, a dissolution of marriage cannot be obtained by a husband on grounds of desertion by his wife.
9. As far as the finding recorded by the Court below that the respondent had not deserted the appellant but it was he who had acted with cruelty and had driven her out of the house, to my mind, no exception can be taken to it,
10. Learned counsel for the parties have taken me through the evidence on record and I am satisfied that it was the appellant who for reasons of his own drove away his wife from his house and took no serious steps to bring her back. Even in his statement recorded by the trial Court, the appellant stated that he was not prepared to take back his wife. On the other hand, the respondent clearly stated that she was prepared to live with her husband provided he undertook not to treat her with cruelty and beat her. The only witness produced by the appellant in support of his case that the respondent left the matrimonial home without any rhyme or reason and subsequently refused to return back is P. W. 2 Kamal Nain. It is true that Kamal Nain is the uncle of the respondent but from his own statement it appears that he has several litigations not only with the father of the respondent but also with the respondent herself. He is clearly a witness inimical to the respondent and entered the witness box merely to embarrass her. The evidence of D. W. 1 Smt. Chandrawati appears to be spontaneous and genuine. Her evidence to a considerable extent is corroborated by the testimony of D. W. 2 Mr. Kauklain, the respondent's father. Both these witnesses were subjected to fairly lengthy cross-examination but nothing was brought out from their statements which would justify reliance not being placed on their testimony. The documents which have been produced by the appellant are of no assistance to him and do not in any fashion support his claim that it was the respondent who left his house without any sufficient cause.
11. The appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. Expenses of the appeal have already been paid by the appellant in pursuance of an order passed by this Court on the 2nd December, 1973. I consequently make no order as to costs.