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Kandasami Pillai Vs. Murugammal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1896)ILR19Mad6
AppellantKandasami Pillai
RespondentMurugammal
Cases Referred and Roma Nath v. Rajonimoni Dasi I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....for the ancient law-givers laying down, as a rule of conduct, for a husband and son, that even the wife or mother who has been guilty of unchastity should not be left in a state of perfect destitution; , yet it is not easy to formulate precisely the cases in and the extent to which that doctrine is to be applied. and i have little doubt that before a decree for maintenance is given to a wife who has once been guilty of infidelity, she must show, not only that at the time of the plaint and the trial she was leading a chaste life, but also that she had done so for a sufficient period previously so as clearly to lead to the conclusion that she has completely renounced her immoral course, and that, in fact, she is a reformed woman. on the contrary, the defendant appears to be so strongly..........for the ancient law-givers laying down, as a rule of conduct, for a husband and son, that even the wife or mother who has been guilty of unchastity should not be left in a state of perfect destitution; but it has still to be determined how far these texts will be regarded as mandatory and not merely perceptive; and if the former, in what cases and to what extent the court will enforce them.' it must be admitted that the point is one of some difficulty. for although the doctrine of the ancient law-givers enunciated in the texts in question is grounded on the sound considerations adverted to by petheram, c.j., and banerjee, j., yet it is not easy to formulate precisely the cases in and the extent to which that doctrine is to be applied. but assuming that the texts are not mere moral.....
Judgment:

Subramania Ayyar, J.

1. The plaintiff in this case seeks to set aside the decree passed in Original Suit No. 129 of 1887 in favour of the defendant, his wife, awarding to her a maintenance of ten rupees per mensem. The suit is founded on the allegation that in 1893 the defendant committed adultery with one Velayuda Asari. The defence is a simple denial of the case set up in the plaint.

2. The only issues to be determined are--has the plaintiff made out the case set up by him, and, if so, to what relief is he entitled?

3. His Lordship recorded an admission that the parties had separated in 1886 and had never since resided together, and, after discussing the evidence, stated, as his finding thereon, that the defendant had in 1893 become pregnant by Velayuda Asari and had given birth to a child by him. The judgment continued as follows:

4. I have no hesitation in finding that the plaintiff has made out his case.

5. As to the relief prayed, it has been contended on behalf of the defendant, that she is entitled under any circumstances to at least bare maintenance. Honamma v. Timannabhat I.L.R. 1 Bom. 559 relied upon in support of this contention has been dissented from in Valu v. Ganga I.L.R. 7 Bom. 84. In Roma Nath v. Rajonimoni Dasi I.L.R. 17 Cal. 674 Petheram, C.J., and Banerjee J., however, seem inclined to hold that the view taken in the earlier Bombay case is warranted by the texts of Hindu law, and further that it has the support of reason, inasmuch as the allowance of mere food and raiment to an unchaste woman is prescribed: in order that she may have a locus poenitentioe, and that she may not be compelled by sheer necessity to continue to lead a life of shame and misery. However, in Nagamma v. Virabhadra I.L.R. 17 Mad. 392 recently decided by this Court, the learned Chief Justice and Shephard, J. observe: 'We must follow the decision in Valu v. Ganga I.L.R. 7 Bom. 84 and Vishnu Shambhog v. Manjamma I.L.R. 9 Bom. 108 and hold that unchastity of a widow deprives her wholly of her right to maintenance. No text has been cited in favour of the theory that a bare maintenance can be allowed.' In the above cases it will be seen that the question related to the provision to be made for widows, whilst here it is as to the maintenance of a wife. Referring to the existence of a distinction between the two classes of cases, Sargent, C.J. in Valu v. Ganga I.L.R. 7 Bom. 84 already cited, observes thus: 'The only analogous cases in which such a distinction is to be found, are those of an adulterous wife and mother for which special texts are provided. The close and tender relations which exist between husband and wife and mother and son may well account for the ancient law-givers laying down, as a rule of conduct, for a husband and son, that even the wife or mother who has been guilty of unchastity should not be left in a state of perfect destitution; but it has still to be determined how far these texts will be regarded as mandatory and not merely perceptive; and if the former, in what cases and to what extent the Court will enforce them.' It must be admitted that the point is one of some difficulty. For although the doctrine of the ancient law-givers enunciated in the texts in question is grounded on the sound considerations adverted to by Petheram, C.J., and Banerjee, J., yet it is not easy to formulate precisely the cases in and the extent to which that doctrine is to be applied. But assuming that the texts are not mere moral precepts but mandatory, I think--following the view adopted by the Calcutta Court in Roma Nath v. Rajonimoni Dasi I.L.R. 17 Cal. 674 in the case of the widow--it can be safely laid down that maintenance, however small, ought not to be awarded by Courts, even to a wife, when it appears that she, about the time of the litigation, persists in a vicious course of life. To hold otherwise would be contrary to all morality and principle; and I have little doubt that before a decree for maintenance is given to a wife who has once been guilty of infidelity, she must show, not only that at the time of the plaint and the trial she was leading a chaste life, but also that she had done so for a sufficient period previously so as clearly to lead to the conclusion that she has completely renounced her immoral course, and that, in fact, she is a reformed woman. In the present case, however, there is not a particle of evidence to prove such is the case with the defendant. On the contrary, the defendant appears to be so strongly addicted to vice, and her misconduct has been so recent, open and continuous, that I am unable to say that I am satisfied that even the idea of definitely changing her present mode of life has occurred to her. Her case seems, moreover, to be complicated by the fact that she is the mother of an illegitimate child ; since a text of Yajnavalkya treats conception by unlawful commerce to be such an aggravation of a disloyal wufe's offence as to justify complete desertion by the husband, though it should be added that Vijnaneswara appears to restrict the text to the case of the three regenerate classes--Colebrooke's Digest, book IV, chapter I, verse LXXVII; and therefore, by implication, to hold it to be inapplicable to Sudras, to which caste the parties in the present case belong. But whether even among Sudras the existence of an illegitimate issue born to the wife before she changed her life would not, under certain circumstances, be an obstacle in the way of her claiming even bare maintenance is rather a delicate question, However this may be, and although no doubt a mere false defence by itself would not deprive the party setting it up of her legal right, the attempt which the defendant has made in this case to fasten upon the plaintiff as his legitimate issue the fruit of adultery is clear proof that she is far from a penitent wife who may be allowed to seek the benefit of the humane provision mentioned in the texts referred to in Valu v. Ganga I.L.R. 7 Bom. 84 and Roma Nath v. Rajonimoni Dasi I.L.R. 17 Cal. 674.

6. The plaintiff is, therefore, entitled to the relief claimed. I set aside the decree in Original Suit No. 129 of 1889 and the execution proceedings taken therein subsequent to this suit. The defendant must pay the costs of the plaintiff.

7. Ramanujachariar, Attorney for Plaintiff.


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