1. This appeal arises out of the execution of a decree in a partition suit whereunder the appellant was required to pay a sum not exceeding Rs. 1,000 towards his share of the marriage expenses of each of his sisters. The youngest sister was married on 7th March, 1935, and it was admitted by the father (the respondent) that he had the marriage celebrated within the Hyderabad State because it would have been illegal under the Child Marriage Restraint Act (XIX of 1929) had it been performed in British India. There is no suggestion that any of the parties belonged to or was domiciled in Hyderabad. The appellant objects to pay the amount due under the decree towards this marriage firstly because the marriage was one opposed to public policy and secondly because he was not given notice of the marriage.
2. As to the second point the trial Court rejects the respondent's assertion that he sent an invitation to the appellant for the wedding. It is, of course, not unlikely that the appellant knew all about the marriage as the parties were living in the same village. But whether this be so or not though the judgment of the Full Bench which eventually decided the litigation contemplates previous notice to the appellant, the decree is silent on the point. The utmost therefore that could be said is in my opinion that to the extent to which the details of the claim were contested, the fact that there was no notice might be taken into consideration in admitting or rejecting items of expenditure.
3. I turn next to the more substantial question whether a marriage performed outside British India in order to evade the provisions of what is popularly known as the Sarda Act is one opposed to public policy, towards which no contribution can be recovered in execution of a decree. My attention has been drawn to a decision of Panckridge, J., reported in Pan Mal Lodha v. Gad Mal Lodha I.L.R.(1936) 63 Cal. 1153. The learned Judge declined to sanction payment of money by a Court's receiver for the purpose of solemnization of a marriage outside British India which would have been illegal if celebrated in British India where the parties were domiciled. I see no reason to differ from the conclusions arrived at by the learned Judge in that case. But it seems to me very evident that a refusal of the Court to make a discretionary payment towards a marriage the object of which was clearly to avoid the law of British India is quite a different matter from the refusal of the Court to direct a payment unconditionally required under the Court's decree, on the| ground that the object for which the payment was to be made was one which would have been illegal if performed in British India. It is well established that the power of the Court to decline to enforce contracts and other instruments on grounds of public policy is a power which should be confined within the limits laid down by authority. Clearly the Court would not enforce a contract and presumably would not enforce a decree if the enforcement implied the approbation by the Court of an act which was contrary to law. But I see no reason why the Court should refuse to enforce a payment under a decree because the object for which a payment is made is contrary to the law of British India when that object was actually performed in a state where it was perfectly legal. If it had been the policy of the Legislature to prevent British Indian subjects from going into another state to celebrate marriages which would be prohibited under Act XIX of 1929 in British India, then surely the Legislature would have made provision in the statute itself to restrain such migrations for matrimonial purposes. The Act as passed originally was very restricted in its scope and was surrounded by many safeguards to prevent it from being operated in an oppressive manner. One is not justified in importing into the Act an intention which the Act itself does not declare to regulate the conduct of British Indian subjects when outside the territories to which the Act applies. I must therefore hold that the learned District Judge was right in declining to accept the contention that the amount payable under the decree towards this marriage should be refused on grounds of public policy. The appeal is therefore dismissed with costs. Leave to appeal is refused.