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Shashi Bala Vs. Anil Kumar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 51 of 1978
Judge
Reported in16(1979)DLT37
ActsSpecial Marriage Act, 1954 - Sections 24
AppellantShashi Bala
RespondentAnil Kumar
Advocates: R.L. Tandon and; C.L. Joseph, Advs
Excerpt:
.....the appellant developed cold feet and changed her mind. she also admits that she sent greetings card exhibit r/9 to the sister of the respondent in envelope exhibit r/10. (14) the greetings card exhibit r/8 which the appellant sent to the respondent speaks of her love for the respondent which she clearly admitted by writing 'i love you'.she admits that these words were written by her voluntarily. the words 'i love you' on the card exhibit r/8, she wrote voluntarily as admitted by her. she further admits that she used to visit restaurants like chinar, standard with the respondent. besides, at the time the declaration was filed before the registrar, the respondent had clearly mentioned about his educa- tional qualifications by furnishing a copy of the certificate of having passed the..........developed cold feet and changed her mind. the appellant admits having sent diwali greetings card exhibit r/8, containing greetings written in her hand to the respondent. she admits that this card was sent in envelope exhibit r/7. she further admits that her friend veena agarwal also sent greeting card exhibit r/11 to the respondeat in envelope exhibit r/12. she also admits that she and her friend veena agarwal went together to buy the greeting cards, and that the respondent was not with them at that time. she also admits that she sent greetings card exhibit r/9 to the sister of the respondent in envelope exhibit r/10. (14) the greetings card exhibit r/8 which the appellant sent to the respondent speaks of her love for the respondent which she clearly admitted by writing ''i love.....
Judgment:

Prithvi Raj, J.

(1) This letters patent appeal has been filed by the appellant-wife against the judgment dated 24th April, 1978, passed by a learned Single Judge setting aside the decree of nullity passed in her favor by an Additional District Judge, Delhi, annulling her marriage with respondent.

(2) Relevant facts for the disposal of this appeal are as follows. The appellant filed a petition under section 25 of the Special Marriage Act, praying that her marriage with the respondent be annulled as her consent to the marriage had been obtained by coercion and or fraud. The appellant's case is that the respondent's sister Kumari Vijay was her class fellow and intimate friend when she was studying in the higher secondary in Ballimaran. This friendship continued even after the appellant had passed higher secondary examination. Kumari Vijay introduced the appellant to the respondent her brother, a year prior to the filing of the petition telling the appellant that the respondent was highly educated and was a prosperous business man. The respondent was alleged to have also asserted the same. The appellant contends that she was taken in by the aforesaid assertions of the respondent and thought him to be a smart prosperous business man. The respondent used to take her to posh restaurants in order to impress her with his wealth. The appellant contend that she was taken in by the aforesaid assertions of the respondent and his conduct. When the intimacy between her and the respondent grew, the respondent suggested to her that she should marry him. The appellant protested saying that her parents would never agree to it without verifying his antecedents and status. The respondent suggested to her that they could marry under the Special Marriage Act to which the appellant protested but the respondent threatened that if she did not agree to marry him under the Special Marriage Act, he will 'cause harm to her parents and would also disfigure her and commit suicide himself'. The appellant gave in to the said proposal under the aforesaid threat and coercion of the respondent.

(3) In order to keep the matter secret, the respondent in the declaration form filed, before the Registrar of Marriages gave her address as 36/7 Patel Nagar, New Delhi. After the marriage was certified by the Registrar of Marriages on 9th December, 1974, the respondent took her to his house where she found the living conditions of the respondent much below the standard she was given to believe. She also found the respondent to be practically aneduedted.

THEappellant on finding the above-noted intolerable position immediately left the house of the petitioner and returned to her parents house. Hence the petition.

(4) The respondent in his written statement denying the allegations of the appellant submits that the marriage was performed with her free consent and that it was the appellant who had suggested the Patel Nagar address as one of her relatives lived at that address. According to the respondent the appsllant was a constant visitor to his house. She used to spend about one month before the examinations in his house as her house is a small one consisting of three rooms and there are five brothers and sisters living in that house while the respondent's house has 22 to 24 rooms. The respondent contends that appsllant always used to say that she could not find any quiet place in her own house for studies while at his house a separate room was available where the appellant used to study with his sister, Vijay Kumari. He contends that even after her higher secondary examination the appellant used to visit their house. It is contended that both the families were on visiting terms and that the appellant's family had been participating in the functions held in the respondent's family.

(5) Furher, the case of the respondent is that the appellant started writing letters to him and developed intimacy with him sometimes in the year 1971 and since then they had been meeting each other at their houses and that the said fact was known to the appellant's mother who did not object to their meeting.

(6) It is contended that immediately after the marriage the appellant informed her father on the telephone about it. On the 10th of December, 1974, at about 5 p.m. in the evening the appellant's father came to the respondent's house and sought his permission to take the appellant with him because he wanted a marriage to be performed according to the Hindu rites also which was agreed to be performed after a couple of days. But after the appellant's father had taken her away to his house, he stopped all communications and kept her away from the respondent.

(7) The respondent contends that the appellant was a willing party to the marriage. Both of them verified before the Registrar of Marriages that the contents of the form submitted by them were correct and that they had put their signatures before him. The respondent further avers that at the time of submitting the notice for marriage, he submitted an affidavit regarding his educational qualifications, the contents whereof were known to the appellant.

(8) The appellant in her replication denying the averments made in the written statement, re-affirmed the contents of her petition.

(9) The appellant besides appearing as her own witness examined her parents in support of her petition. The respondent besides himself examined seven other witnesses, including his father and elder brother.

(10) The trial Court accepting the evidence of the appellant held that her consent to the marriage with the respondent was obtained by the respondent by coercion and, as such, the marriage was voidable at the instance of the appellant. In the result, the trial Court annulled the marriage between the parties by passing a decree of nullity under Section 25 of the Special Marriage Act

(11) The respondent feeling aggrieved by the decree, challenged the same by filing an appeal in this Court. The learned Single Judge on appraisal of evidence, both oral and documentary, held that evidence, belied that the appellant's consent was obtained by practicing coercion on her. The learned Judge found that the appellant and her people were freely visiting the house of the respondent prior to the marriage. Relying on the appellant's photograph with the respondent. Exhibit R/6, which the appellant admitted was taken 2 or 3 months before their marriage, it was held that a girl under threat would not indulge in the delight of having herself photographed with a boy who had threatened her. The appellant being unable to state when the alleged threat was held out to her by the respondent and disbelieving her version that the respondent continued giving threats till the time of marriage, the learned Single Judge upset the finding of the trial Court that her consent was obtained by coercion. In the facts and circumstances of the case it was held that the conduct of the appellant showed that she married willingly but later on changed her mind. The decree of nullity was set aside. Hence this Letters Patent Appeal.

(12) The appellant appearing as her own witness had supported the averments made by her in her petition. So have her father and mother. The question, however, is whether their testimony inspires confidence.

(13) The appellant in her cross-examination had started that respondent threatened to disfigure her, to kill her father and to kidnap her brothers. This threat she stated was given 2/3 months before the marriage though she was not able to recollect the date or the month when she was threatened. She further stated that she did not disclose that fact to anybody as she was under fear on account of the threat. At the time the marriage in question was certified the appellant was a student of B.A.IIIrd year, Mata Sundri College and was capable of fully understanding her interest. The marriage was certified on 9th Dec., 1974. The accusation regarding coercion is falsified from the documentary evidence on record. It appears after the marriage for reasons best known to her, the appellant developed cold feet and changed her mind. The appellant admits having sent Diwali Greetings card Exhibit R/8, containing greetings written in her hand to the respondent. She admits that this card was sent in envelope Exhibit R/7. She further admits that her friend Veena Agarwal also sent greeting card Exhibit R/11 to the respondeat in envelope Exhibit R/12. She also admits that she and her friend Veena Agarwal went together to buy the greeting cards, and that the respondent was not with them at that time. She also admits that she sent greetings card Exhibit R/9 to the sister of the respondent in envelope Exhibit R/10.

(14) The greetings card Exhibit R/8 which the appellant sent to the respondent speaks of her love for the respondent which she clearly admitted by writing ''I love you'. She admits that these words were written by her voluntarily. This card was sent in envelope Exhibit R/7. She admits that the envolpe Exhibit R/7 bears the postal stamp of November, 1974. This card was sent a month earlier to the certification of the marriage. This conduct of the appellant belies her assertion that she was made to give her consent to the marriage because of threat held out to her. The words 'I love you' on the card Exhibit R/8, she wrote voluntarily as admitted by her. Not only that she made her frienn Veena Aggarwal also to send a greetings card Exhibit R/11 to the respondent. The appellant also sent a greetings card to the sister of the respondent. She and her friend Veena Aggarwal had gone alone to buy these cards. This conduct of the appellant is incompatible with her assumed stance of having given consent under threat.

(15) There is another circumstance which strongly repels threat having been given to the appellant. The respondent in his written statement had pointedly averred that his brother was married on 19th October, 1974, and that the entire family of the appellent was present at his house and participated in the marriage. The appellant in her cross-examination admits that she along wither mother, her younger brothers and sisters attended the wedding of the respondent's elder brother. The mother of the appellant in her statement as PW2 admits that she attended the said marriage though she stated that the bride's house was in Gandi Gali and that she had gone there direct with her son Vijay Kumar and stayed there for about an hour and a half. The appellant contradicts her mother on this pointstating that she, her mother, her sister, her brothers and her cousin Sunita all went to the respondent's house and then accompanied the marriage party to the bride's residence. The fact remains that the appellant and her mother, sister and brothers attended this marriage.

(16) If the appellant had been threatened as now sought to be alleged by her, there was no question of the appellant, her mother, sister, brothers and her cousin participating in the marriage of the elder brother of the respondent accompanying the Barat to the house of the bride.

(17) The appellant admits that she got herself photographed with the respondent. Exhibit R/6 is that photograph. She further admits that she used to visit restaurants like Chinar, Standard with the respondent. All this conduct of the appellant knocks the bottom out of the allegation of the appellant having been thrertened. There was no question of her giving the consent to the marriuge under duress or threat.

(18) The two families were known to each other intimately. This is borne out from the fact that the family of the appellant participted in the marriage of the elder brother of the respondent. Not only that Shiv Ram Dass father of the respondent Rw 7, has stated that the mother of the petitioner along with the petitioner came to his house on the occasion of the birth of a daughter to his daughter RaJ Bala. On that occasion, the mother of the petiti- oner gave Rs. 21.00 as Shagun. This statement of the father of the respondent had not been challenged in cross-examination.

(19) The above noted circumstances belie the theory of the appellant's consent having been obtained under coercion or of any fraud having been practiced on her.

(20) The giving of wrong address of the appellant in the declaration filed before the Registrar of Marriages is, under the circumstances of the case of no consequence, more so when there is no obligation on the Registrar to give intimation to the appellant's parents about the filing of the declaration before him.

THEallegation of the appellant that she was wrongly led into believing that the respondent was an educated person and affluent businessman because of the information supplied to her by the respondent and his sister, Kumari Vijay, is wholly devoid of merit. She was an educated girl being student of B-A., IIIrd year of Mata Sundri College when she was married ; she had concededthat she had been visiting restaurants in the company of the respondent She obviously had an opportunity of having some discussion on the various topics with the respondent and it was possible for her to find out the educational achievements of the respondent. Besides, at the time the declaration was filed before the Registrar, the respondent had clearly mentioned about his educa- tional qualifications by furnishing a copy of the certificate of having passed the the middle class examination. Having come to know of that and with eyes open, the appellant contracted the marriage. The two families being on visiting tenas with each other.as noted earlier, it is futile for the appellant to content that her consent was obtained by practicing fraud in wrongly posting her with the educational qualifications or the extent of prospsrity of the respondent in business.

(21) Although the trial Court passed the decree of nullity on the ground that consent of the appellant was obtained under duress and coercion, the learned Single Judge in setting aside the decree of the trial Court had also examined the evidence led on the question of fraud having been practiced. On appreciation of evidence, the learned Single Judge rightly repelled the accusation of the fraud having been practiced on the appellant. We are in respectful agreement with the view taken by the learned Single Judge.

(22) For the reasons stated above, the appeal fails and is hereby dismissed. Parties to bear their own costs.


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