C.P. Sen, J.
1. This is for confirmation of the decree for nullity of marriage under Section 19(4) of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, which requires to be confirmed under Section 20 of the Act.
2. The parties are Christians and they were married on 27-6-1981 as per rites and ceremonies in their community at Ajmer. After the marriage, the respondent came to live with the petitioner at Jabalpur on 30-6-1981 and both of them lived together as husband and wife for 15 days in the petitioner's house in Agrawal Compound, Napier Town, Jabalpur. Thereafter the respondent left for Bhilwara in Rajasthan where she is serving as Principal in some Christian school. Since then she has deserted the petitioner. They have no issue from their marriage. The petitioner's case is that in the last week of December 1982, he for the first time came to know that the respondent was already married at the time of her marriage with the petitioner. She had married one Mashih Prasad on 27-12-1965 at Central Methodist Church, Ajmer. The marriage was not dissolved and the former husband was alive at the time of the second marriage. These facts' were suppressed by the respondent and the petitioner was defrauded in marrying the respondent Therefore, the marriage is a nullity under Section 19(4) of the Act. Summonses were duly served on the respondent by the ordinary process as also by registered post but she failed to appear and remained ex-parte. Petitioner Andrias Soni (P. W. 1) has proved his marriage with the respondent Since the petitioner could not get a certificate of the marriage, he filed an affidavit as required under the rule. S.M. Julias (P. W. 2) has proved the first marriage of the respondent with Mashih Prasad in Central Methodist Church, Ajmer, on 27-12-65. The witness was present in that marriage. The respondent and Mashih Prasad were then working in the same school at Ajmer as teachers. -Mashih Prasad lived with the respondent in her house till December 1978 and thereafter he disappeared The next witness Aster Mashih (P. W. 3) has deposed that she had last seen Mashih Prasad on 27-10-1981 i.e. four months after the marriage of the petitioner with' the respondent, while she was traveling from Delhi to Jabalpur. Mashih Prasad had entered in her compartment at Agra station, Relying oh the statements of these witnesses, the learned District Judge has declared the marriage to be nullity.
3. The respondent was ex parte before the trial Court. Notice of this proceeding was sent to the respondent by registered post and theacknowledgment is on record However, she failed to appear in this Court also. We have heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and gone through the record and we are satisfied that the marriage between the petitioner and the respondent was a nullity under Section 19(4) of the Act since the respondent's earlier marriage with Mashih Prasad was subsisting and the first husband was alive at the time of the second marriage. The statements of the petitioner's witnesses have not been challenged and they have gone unrebutted. There is no reason why these witnesses would speak falsely against the respondent especially the two witnesses S.M. Julias (P. W. 2) and Aster Mashih (P. W. 3). They are independent persons and they have no axe to grind against the respondent. Ex. P. 1 is the copy of the marriage register showing marriage of the respondent with Mashih Prasad on 27-12-1965. No evidence has been led to show that this marriage stood dissolved when the respondent contracted the second marriage with the petitioner. Since Mashih Prasad was alive at the time of the second marriage of the respondent with the petitioner, the second marriage was a nullity.
4. Therefore, we affirm the decree under Section 20 of the Act. Parties to bear their own costs. However, the petitioner is directed to deposit paper book cost of Rs. 16.45/-.