I.D. Dua, J.
(1) Smt. Chinta Mani and her minor female child have approached this Court on revision assailing the order of the learned Sub-Divisional Juge, Kalpa Sub-Division, Kalpa, dated 9th January, 1968 rejecting their claim under section 488, Cr. P.C. for maintenance against Shri Jagat Singh (respondent in this Court) who has been stated to be the father of the female child and who has lived with Smt Chinta Mani as her husband.
(2) The claim proceedings were, I am informed, initially instituted in the Nayaya Panchayat, Kalpa, but under section 63 of the Himachal Pradesh Panchayat Rai Act, those proceedings were transferred to the Magistrate having jurisdiction to try the controversy. I am informed by the -learned counsel appearing in this case that though in section 63 the Court is described as that of the Magistrate, he really functions as Sub- Divisional.judge while dealing with proceedings like the present. As ntohing turns on this description, I need nto say anything on this point.
(3) The learned Sub-Divisional Judge has summarised the evidence of the parties led before him and has in the end expressed his opinion in the following words :-
'AFTERcarefully adducing the statements of the witnesses of btoh the parties, I have come to the conclusion that the claim put forward by the petitioner for maintenance does nto stand as the statements made by her are conflicting and confusing. The main point that she was pregnant because of the act of intimacy on Jeth 22 has been pointed out by the statements of the witnesses of the respondent that at this time say June 2nd to 5th the respondent Shri Jagat Singh, was at Kuppa. It is nto possible then that the act took place as stated by Smt. Chintamani on Jeth 22 i.e. roughly bet ween 3rd to 5th June. In that case the child was born first before the intimacy. The benefit of doubt has been given in favor of the respondent in the absence of clear and definite statements of petitioner. I do nto, thereforee, find any good ground to admit the claim put forward by Smt. Chintamani for maintenance of herself and the illegitimate daughter.'
(4) The learned counsel for the petitioners in this Court submits that the Court below has committed a grievous error in treating this case as if it is a criminal trial of an accused person and the prosecution has to establish the ingredients of the offence beyond all possibility of a reasonable doubt. It is submitted that Shri Jagat Singh has as D.W. I unambiguously admitted that be had illicit relations with Smt. Chinta Mani. It is only on the question of the precise date on which the ilticit intercource giving rise to the birth of the child took place that the Court seems to entertain some doubt and it is because of this doubt that the claim of btoh Smt. Chinta Mani and her baby daughter his bean thrown out. I find from the record also that the Court below has been describing Jagat Singh as an accused in the proceedings held before it on various dates. The grievence ventilated on behalf of Smt. Chinta Mani and her infant daughter seems to me to be justified.
(5) I must point out that proceedings under section 488, Cr. P.C are nto proceedings for punishing an accused person for the commission of an offence because neglect or refusal to maintain a wife or a child is nto an offence and an application under this section is nto a complaint under the Criminal Procedure Code. The husband, it may be remembered. is also entitled to appear as a witness and make his statement on oath, which is normally nto the case in a criminal trial of an accused person unless he himself offers to appear as a witness in his own favor. And then, the provisions of section 488 are nto penal but are merely intended to enforce a duty, a default of which is harmful to those entitled to be maintained aid also to the society as a whole. The approach of the lower Court, thereforee, to expect every ingredient. to be established beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt is dearly misconceived. This section provides for a speady remedy for discarded wives and deserted children who cannto support themselves and, theiefore, this remedy tends to keep such helpless persons away from vagrancy. Power is conferred on Magistrates because a civil litigation is normally prolonged and speedy relief may nto be available in those proceedings so as to serve the purpose of keeping them away from btoh starvation and vagrancy. Of course the power of the Magistrates is limited in scope and their orders are subject to final adjudication by the civil Courts, if parties choose to have their civil rights and status adjudicated upon by such Courts. Holding that the learned Magistrate had nto applied the correct judicial principles and his approach in this case was legelly erroneous, I allowed the counsel for the parties to take me through the entire evidence on the record, because ordering a remand in this case would, in my opinion, have meant further avoidable delay in finally determining the claim of Smt. Chinta Mani and her minor daughter which demands speedy disposal. After going through the evidence, I find that Jagat Singh has actually admitted his liaison with Smt. Chinta Mani, though he confines it only to one act of intercaurse. His assertion that it was only once that he had cohabited with Suit. Chinta Main in April, 1964, does nto inspire confidence and does nto seem to me to be convincing because it is somewhat difficult to believe that after this intimacy, he would have given her up without assigning any cogent or plausible reason. It is nobody's case that Smt. Chinta Mani is a woman who is accessible to every one for isolated sexual acts. I am strenghened in disbelieving this part of Tagat Singh's story by the sworn testimony of Smt Chinta Mani herself, who has stated that intimacy between the two continued for some time This appears to me to be probable and believable on the facts and circumtances as disclosed on the present record. In her statement on oath, which seems to be straight forward, she has deposed that the relationship of man and woman between them continued for considerable time and that it was 'in Jeth last year' that the cohaibitation resulting in corception, which gave birth to the petitioning daughter, took place. Her statement was recorded on 7th Sep. tember, 1966. It would thus seem that approximately it was sometime in 1965 that, (and I am informed it would perhaps be in the month of June, 1905) according to her, the conception occurred. The girl was born somewhere in the third week of February, 1906. The learned Sub Divisional Judge seem to have felt that this world show that the child had been born before her intimacy with Jagat Singh. It is nto understood how the Court below could come to this conclusion on the evidence on the record and the learned counsel appearing for Jagat Singh has nto been able to throw any helpful light on this point. The observition of the Court below does seem to be based on misreading of Smt Chinta Mani's statement.
(6) But this apart, in cases like the present, I consider it to be wholly erroneous approach to expect the dates to be given by the parties like the present with meticulous accuracy, because btoh from the nature of the relationship and the class of society from which the woman comes, it is extrremely difficult, if nto impossible, to expect such deposition as to dates with exact precision Versions like the present have to be weighed in a practical way, keeping in view the standard of intelligence and the care which the paities like those before me may be expected to devtoe to such matters. If Smt. Cainta Mani was honestly believing that Jagat Singh was to be her husband, she would nto maintain datewise record as if for the purpose of deposing about it in Courts. The learned Magistrate's approach seems to me to be highly unreal which has resulted in failure of justice. After considering the evidence on the record, thereforee, I have no hesitation in relying on the statement of Smt. Chinta Mani, corroborated in essential particulars as it is by that of Shri Jagat Singh, who has in unequivocal words admitted bar intimate relationship with her at least in April, 1964.
(7) In the final result, thereforee, I have no alternative but to allow, which I hereby do, the claim of the daughter to maintenance which, on the material on the record, I fix at Rs. 40.00 per month. The fact that she may be considered to be the illegitimate daughter of Jagat Singh, obviously, does nto stand in her way.
(8) On behalf of the respondent it has been urged that there is no definite data on the record from which this Court can satisfactorily determine Jagat Singh income In my view, it is nto necessary to have any exact data for the purpose of coming to a satisfactory deternaination on the point. The evidence of Sent. Chinta Mani is, in my view, sufficiently clear and convincing and this does nto seem to have been rebutted by Jagat Singh. As a father of the female child, he is also bound to support her and a man of his age and health (for ntohing has been pointed out showing that he is any manner infirm or handicaoped), can legitimately be expected to be in a position to provide reasonable maintenance for his child. In the present state of costly living, Rs. 4U.00 per month can hardly be considered to be excessive, and indeed precious little has been suggested against this amount being just and reasonable.
(9) In regard to the claim of Smt. Chinta Mani herself, the record seems to be somewhat inadequate to justify a finding of a valid marriage between her and Jagat Singh May be, that it is customary turn these parties to get married as suggested by her, but on this paint, again attention has nto been drawn to any material on the record, and indeed ntohing cogent has been suggested to justify a positive finding. I, thereforee, refrain from expressing any considered opinion one way or the toher, leaving it to the parties to establish it, if they are so advised, in toher competent legal proceedings open to them. In so far as the daughter is concerned, paternity in her case seems to have been amply established on the present record and Jagat Singh as her father must be held bound to maintain her.
(10) The amount fixed by me would be payable from today. The respondent however, mnst pay to the petitioner costs of the proceeding throughout which I fix at Rs. 150.00 His conduct in attempting to avoid his liability all these years has nto created a happy impression in this Court.
(11) Before concluding, I consider it proper to point out that case of maintenance deserve to be disposed of whit the greatest dispatch and promptitude In this case, the Magistrate received the record on 15th lone, 1968 and he gave the decision 9th on January, 1968. Such inordinate delay defeats the purpose of maintenance proceedings. Attention of all the Coarts dealing with such cases is drawn to the desirability of their speedy disposal.