S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.
1. This is a reference under S. 17 of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, for the confirmation of the decree nisi granted by the learned Addl. District Judge, Ferozepore, declaring the marriage of the petitioner with the respondent as null and void.
2. The petitioner, Mrs. Veena James had preferred the petition under Section 18 of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, on the allegations that being a spinster of about 25 years of Age, she married the respondent Kewal Krishan James, (who had fraudulently represented himself to be a bachelor) at Ferozepore, according to the Christian rites. Thereafter, both of them lived together at Ferozepore and Dabwali. At the latter place it came to the knowledge of the petitioner that in fact the respondent-husband had already been married with one Bina Sharma and not only that he had three children from that wife. The respondent further started assaulting and mal-treating the petitioner and went to the length of making an attempt on her life in Jan., 1980, which culminated in security proceedings being taken by the police. Thereafter, the petitioner has been residing with here parents at Ferozepore and a child named Rohit James had been born out of the wed-lock on March 31, 1977.
3. Notice of the petition was duly served on the respondent-husband, but he refused to accept the same and necessarily ex parte proceedings were ordered against him.
4. To substantiate her case, the petitioner herself stepped into the witness box as A. W. 1. Her father Dudlay Spencer, A. W. 2, fully supported the case of the petitioner. A. W. 3 Henry Singh deposed about the marriage of the petitioner having been performed with the respondent by Rev. D. R. Masih, who was Pastor Incharge of the Church and had issued the certificate to that effect. Rev. D. R. Masih himself stepped into the witness box as A. W. 4 and proved the certificate with regard to the marriage, Ext. A/1. He further deposed that prior to his marriage the respondent husband had converted his religion to Christianity and submitted an affidavit Ext. A/2, before the marriage to the effect that he was a bachelor. The petitioner also summoned and examined A. W. 5, Bina Sharma, former wife of the respondent-husband. She deposed about the earlier marriage and the birth of two sons and one daughter from the loins of the respondent. Birth certificates Exts. A/3 and A/4 were tendered in evidence with regard to two of the children, wherein the father's name was recorded as Kewal Krishna son of Ram Prakash. She stated that she was never divorced by the respondent and the marriage with the respondent still subsisted. Accepting the unrebutted evidence of the wife, the learned Additional District Judge granted an ex parte decree declaring the marriage of the petitioner with the respondent as null and void.
5. In the present proceedings also the respondent has been duly served but has not chosen to put in appearance and proceedings against him are, therefore, ordered to be taken ex parte. It is the admitted position that the statutory period of six months has elapsed.
6. After hearing the learned counsel for the petitioner, we find not the least ground to take a view other than the one arrived at by the learned Additional District Judge. The testimony of as many as five witnesses including the petitioner herself stands wholly uncontradicted. Therefrom the only irresistible conclusion is that the petitioner is plainly entitled to a decree of nullity of marriage.
7. In the result, we allow the reference and confirm the decree nisi. The parties shall, however, bear their own costs.
8. Reference allowed.