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Jeeva Ammal Vs. Ranganatha Mudaliar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFamily
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1939Mad788; (1939)2MLJ294
AppellantJeeva Ammal
RespondentRanganatha Mudaliar
Cases ReferredChirukula Nagalakshmamma v. Chirukula Viswanatha Sastri
Excerpt:
- .....and lived together until 1926 when there was a breach. according to the findings of the learned district judge, the occasion for this breach was the misconduct of the plaintiff and her adultery with her brother-in-law, resulting in a panchayat which excommunicated her. shortly after this breach, she went away to penang where she lived until 1933. in 1933 she returned to india and almost at once started proceedings against her husband for maintenance. the basis of her suit is an allegation that she had been cruelly ill-treated and driven from, the house. the plaint contains no suggestion that she herself was in any way to blame or that she had ever strayed from the path of virtue. the district judge finding that the basis of her plaint was untrue and that the allegations of the.....
Judgment:

Wadsworth, J.

1. The appellant, a Hindu wife, sued her husband for maintenance. The parties married in or about 1920 and lived together until 1926 when there was a breach. According to the findings of the learned District Judge, the occasion for this breach was the misconduct of the plaintiff and her adultery with her brother-in-law, resulting in a panchayat which excommunicated her. Shortly after this breach, she went away to Penang where she lived until 1933. In 1933 she returned to India and almost at once started proceedings against her husband for maintenance. The basis of her suit is an allegation that she had been cruelly ill-treated and driven from, the house. The plaint contains no suggestion that she herself was in any way to blame or that she had ever strayed from the path of virtue. The District Judge finding that the basis of her plaint was untrue and that the allegations of the defendant regarding her misconduct had been established, dismissed the suit.

2. It is now contended in second appeal that even assuming the truth of the findings of the learned District Judge, the dismissal of the suit is improper and that the wife should have been awarded at least what is called in the text books, 'starving' maintenance. The contention is that a husband is obliged to provide for his wife; that this obligation is nullified only by the open and continuous misconduct of the wife and that if she has gone wrong but subsequently repents and offers to return to her husband, he is obliged to provide for her minimum requirements. It seems to me that if a wife, who has left her husband's house as a result of her own adultery and has voluntarily lived apart from him for a considerable number of years, is to compel him to take her back into his house or to pay her a sum for maintenance, on his refusal to do so, she ought to be required to state the truth before the Court and to offer evidence that she has repented for her immorality and has been living a clean life for some appreciable period before the suit.

3. So much seems to follow from the decision of Subramania Aiyar, J., in Kandasami Pillai v. Murugammal I.L.R. (1895) 19 Mad. 6, which was a case in which a decree for maintenance was set aside on the ground of recent, open and continuous misconduct on the part of the wife. She was held not be entitled to bare maintenance on the basis that a wife who has once been guilty of infidelity must show not merely that she was living a chaste life at the time of the suit, but also that her life had been chaste for a sufficiently long period to justify the conclusion that she was a reformed woman. That principle has been applied by a Bench in a case reported in Chirukula Nagalakshmamma v. Chirukula Viswanatha Sastri (1912) 23 Mad. 289. It seems to me quite clear that a woman cannot file a suit on the basis of her own chastity and her husband's misconduct and, when she is proved to be unchaste and her husband's conduct is found to be irreproachable, fall back upon a plea of infidelity and subsequent reformation which has never been advanced and is not supported by the necessary evidence.

4. To my mind if an unchaste wife wishes to enforce her right to bare maintenance against her husband on the ground she has ceased to live a life of unchastity and returned to the path of virtue, that case should be definitely pleaded and supported by definite evidence. In the absence of any such plea or evidence, the decision of the learned District Judge was in my opinion correct. The appeal is therefore dismissed with costs.

5. Leave refused.


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