I.D. Dua, J.
1. This case has been referred by the learned Second Additional Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, on revision from the order of Shri R.S. Thapar, Magistrate First Class, Muktsar, disallowing the application of Shrimati Rano against her husband Mathu Singh under Section 488. Criminal Procedure Code.
2. The facts as stated in the referring order shortly stated are that Shrimati Rano had been married to Shri Mathu Singh about 11 years age About 6 years ago, Shri Mathu Singh r married and after his second marriage, he turned Shrimati Rano out of his house after giving her a beating, The petitioner also pleaded that her brother Jagjit Singh thereafter took her to her husband's house and left her there, but she was again maltreated and turned out of the house at the instance of the second wife.
The petitioner's brother also on one occasion took a Panchayat to Mathu Singh requesting him to take her back, but this request was turned down. It was also pleaded that Mathu Singh owns about 150 bighas of land, that his income is about Rs. 15,000/- per annum from the landed property and therefore, a sum of Rs. 275/- per month was claimed as maintenance in her application under Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code.
3. In his written statement, Shri Mathu Singh acknowledged the petitioner to be his legally wedded wife. He, however, controverter the petitioner claim on the ground that Shrimati Rano herself left his house after her marriage on the ground that she did not like him. It was next pleaded that after the departure of the petitioner from the respondent's house, Shri Mathu Singh and his father took a Panchayat to the wife requesting her to come back but she point-blank refused to do so. It was in these circumstances that Shri Mathu Singh, according to his plea, was compelled to remarry. He in the end averred to take Shrimati Rano back under (sic) own roof and to provide her with the necessary maintenance, if she comes and lives with him.
4. The trial Court disbelieved the version given by the petitioner that on contracting the second marriage Shri Mathu Singh started maltreating Shrimati Rano and ultimately turned her out Of his house after giving her severe beating. On the other hand, the learned Magistrate believed Shri Mathu Singh's allegation that Shrimati Rano had actually left him on her own sweet-will and that the husband, in fact, had been trying to bring her back by trying to induce her and her mother to send her with him. On this finding, the Court came to the conclusion that neglect or refusal on the part of Mathu Singh to maintain his wife remained unproved. As a result of this conclusion, as already mentioned, Shrimati llano's application for maintenance was disallowed.
5. On revision, after examining the evidence, the learned Additional Sessions Judge did not agree with the conclusions of the trial Court. Under the proviso added to Sub-section (3) of Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code, in 1949, if a husband has contracted marriage with another wife or keeps a mistress, it is to be considered to be a just ground for the wife to refuse to live with him. After noticing this provision, the learned Sessions Judge observed that admittedly Mathu Singh had contracted a second marriage, with the result that the said proviso would be attracted to the present case.
The argument advanced on behalf of Shri Mathu Singh that it was Shrimati Rano who had deserted her husband and, therefore, she was disentitled to utilise the above proviso was rejected by the Court below on the ground that the evidence on the record was altogether insufficient to sustain the finding that Shrimati Rano had deserted Mathu Singh. The evidence led in support of this plea was considered to be altogether unconvincing.
According to Mathu Singh's version, Shrimati Rano must have deserted him after about a couple of months of their marriage. After Shrimati Rano had left her husband, as Shri Mathu Singh would have the Court believe, a few months after her marriage determined not to come back, then the respondent would have contracted a second marriage within a short time thereafter and not only about 6 years ago as admittedly the case.
The counter-version, as given by Shrimati Rano, that she actually lived in her husband's house for a period of about four years and it was thereafter that she was turned out, according to the learned Additional Sessions Judge, appeared to be more probable, natural and consonant with the surrounding circumstances. This version also, according to the Court below, fits in with the second marriage having taken place only six years ago. The Court also felt disinclined to believe Shri Mathu Singh's assertion that he had been making efforts to bring back Shrimati Rano even after the second marriage.
This was also discredited by the Court below on the ground that if second marriage had been contracted because of the determined refusal on the part of Shrimati Rano to live with her husband, it would be odd and incredible that further attempts should be made by the respondent to bring back the first wife and thereby create unnecessary, complications in the family life. The Court also considered disparity between the pleadings and the evidence led by the respondent and this, according to the Court below, was presumably due to the anxiety on the part of the husband to avoid his liability to maintain his first wife. For all these reasons, the Court disbelieved the version given by the husband and believed that of the wife.
6. The Court also took into account the circumstance that Shrimati Rano's father is dead and that if her husband does not support her she would have to depend upon the goodwill of her brother for her maintenance. This factum, according to the Court below, would also be relevant in determining whether Shrimati Rano could possibly have displayed the arrogance ascribed to her by her husband and would have refused to live peacefully with her husband in her matrimonial home. The contention that Shrimati Rano's mother was encouraging her to break with her husband was also considered to be unconvincing by the Court below, with the observation that the normal anxiety of a widowed mother is always to see that her daughter lives comfortably in her own houses with her legally wedded husband.
7. The respondent had, according to the Court below admitted in his cross-examination that during the last seven years he has not paid any maintenance to his spouse. This has been considered to be a fairly reliable proof that Shrimati Rano has actually been neglected in the matter of maintenance. Indeed, the evidence led on behalf of the petitioner has been described by the Court below to be reliable and the witnesses to be men of substance and status. Shri Mathu Singh was he'd on the evidence of the record to own 30 bighas of land in the Punjab and about 7 bighas of land were held to be mortgaged with possession with him in Rajasthan.
From this land, on a consideration of the evidence, the Court felt that the husband must be getting an income of about Rs. 1850/- per annum. Although being the youngest son of his father, who is alive, the Court felt that the husband must also be getting some benefit out of his father's income, but even considering his income to be Rs, 1850/- per annum, Shrimati Rano was held entitled to one-third share of it, which came to about Rs. 617/- per annum. She was, however, held entitled to receive Rs. 600/- per annum from her husband.
8. It is in these circumstances that this case has been referred to this Court by the learned Second Additional Sessions Judge.
9. Before me, the learned Counsel for the respondent has contended that in the present case Shrimati Rano was initially to blame inasmuch as that she deserted the husband herself soon after her marriage and that if her desertion has compelled the husband to marry a second wife, she should not be permitted to take advantage of this circumstance.
10. At this stage, it would be helpful to reproduce Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code:
After reproducing the section His Lordship proceeds.
11. Reliance has been placed on the proviso to Sub-section (3), which lays down that-.if such person (the reference being to the husband) offers to maintain his wife on condition of her living with him, and she refuses to live with him, such Magistrate may consider any grounds of refusal stated by her, and may make an order under this section notwithstanding such offer if he is satisfied that there is just ground for so doing....
It is emphasised that the learned Magistrate was not satisfied with the grounds of her refusal to live with the husband and it is submitted that I should also, in agreement with the learned Magistrate, so hold. In my opinion, the contention is not sound. Below this proviso, it is again provided that-
If a husband has contracted marriage with another wife or keeps a mistress it shall be considered to be just ground for his wife's refusal to live with him....
This Provision, as its language suggests, is imperative, and refusal on the part of wife to live with her husband, in these circumstances, must be considered to be just irrespective of the circumstances, which led to the second marriage. In this connection, it must never be forgotten that the amendment in Section 488 was brought about in pursuance of the radical change in the public sentiments, which disfavor polygamy as also neglect and desertion of the previous wives by those, who marry a second time during the life time of their previous wives. In this connection, it is also helpful to refer to Section 18 of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 78 of 1956, where it is expressly laid down that-
A Hindu wife shall be entitled to live separately from her husband without forfeiting her claim to maintenance-
(d) if he has any other wife living.
This provision is unqualified and does not place the Hindu wife under any disability on account of her alleged previous conduct before the husband entered into a second marriage; the only qualification enacted by the Legislature in Sub-section (3) being that the Hindu wife must not be unchaste or ceased to be a Hindu by conversion to another religion. Reference may at this stage also be made to Hindu Marriage Act, which makes bigamy amongst Hindus an offence (see Section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act).
Indeed, under Section 5 of this Act, a marriage between two Hindus can be solemnised after the enforcement of Act 25 of 1955, if, inter alia, neither party has a spouse living at the time of the marriage. So where after 1955 it is impossible to solemnise a marriage between two Hindus where either party has a spouse living, in my opinion, the law has also safeguarded the interests of those wives, whom the husband chooses to neglect by providing, that no wife can be compelled to live with her husband along with his other wives, and that she would, in such a contingency be entitled to claim separate maintenance from him.
12. That it is relevant to construe the provisions of a statute in the light of other provisions-on similar or identical subject was laid down by a Bench of this Court in Rattan Amol Singh v. Smt. Kamaljit Kaur . In that case, while construing the provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act, it was considered relevant and helpful to harmoniously construe the provisions of that Act and those of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, because they constituted parts of a single scheme or of the same Legislative plan.
In my opinion, every piece of Legislative enactment must be construed in the back ground of the existing and cognate statutory provisions, so that the Legislative intent as expressed in the form of related homogeneous general enactment indicative of a settled scheme of social legislation on a particular subject may be harmonized and fully effectuated, Recent statutes dealing with the subject of the rights of Hindu women are not to be considered as isolated fragments of legislative instruments but as parts of one complete statutory arrangement having for their common purpose or scope the eradication or the suppression of the same social evil.
13. On behalf of the respondents, my attention was also drawn to a Bench decision, to which I was party, in Mst. Dhan Kaur v. Niranjan Singh , where it is laid down that-.No order of maintenance can be made in favour of the wife under Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code, even though she is living separate from her husband in pursuance of her statutory right to live separately from him because he has married again or has taken a mistress to himself....
and that-.the foundation of the order of maintenance under Sub-section (1) of Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is the proof of neglect and refusal by the husband to maintain his wife....
The law, as laid down there, is perfectly correct, but then, when a husband imposes a condition that he will maintain his wife only if she lives with him in company with his other wife, in my opinion, the refusal and neglect, are both implicit in it. I can understand the husband offering to maintain his wife, without insisting on her giving up her right to live separately, and in that case, of course, the wife would not be entitled to approach the Court under Section 488, Criminal Procedure Code, but then, perhaps, in that case, there would be no occasion for her to enforce her rights, because there is no violation thereof.
In, the present case, it is clear that the husband has offered to maintain her only if she goes and lives in his house along with his other wife. This, in my opinion, can by no stretch, justify the conclusion that he has not neglected or refused to maintain his wife. The learned Magistrate in the case in hand was, in my opinion, completely wrong in holding to the contrary.
14. The counsel then submitted that the finding of the Magistrate was that the wife had deserted t the husband before his second marriage. As I have already held that even if, this conclusion is correct, then die wife cannot be considered to have forfeited her right to maintenance, But I am also doubtful about the correctness of the conclusion of the learned Magistrate, He has not consider red the Evidence in detail and indeed, he has not cared to apply his mind to the evidence led before him. The learned Second Additional Sessions Judge has, in my opinion, gone into the evidence much more thoroughly and in r more satisfactory and more detailed manner.
After going through the evidence, he has come to the conclusion that the wife had not deserted him as has been alleged by hex husband Mathu Singh, After considering the evidence, it appears to me that the decision of the learned Magistrate was wholly unsatisfactory and even perverse. I would, therefore, if necessary be prepared, even on the evidence, to hold that the wife wag not at all guilty of desertion, as has been supposed by the learned Magistrate.
15. For the reasons given above, agreeing with the recommendation of the learned Second Additional Sessions Judge, I would reverse the decision of the learned Magistrate and pass an order in favour of Shrimati Rano granting maintenance at the rate of Rs. 600/- per annum.