1. This Rule is directed against an order of maintenance passed under Section 488, Criminal P.C. The only question for determination is whether the learned Magistrate was right in holding that the marriage of the petitioner to the opposite party had been proved. It is clear from the evidence that the parties had lived together as man and wife for many years, and it appears that, in a passport issued to the opposite party some eight years ago, she was described as the wife of the petitioner. There is also the evidence of the landlord of the house in which the parties lived for many years as man and wife, to the effect that the petitioner had stated to him that he had been married to the opposite party in nika form, while witness Kali says that, if there was any marriage between the parties, it was a nika marriage. The petitioner's first statement before' the Magistrate was merely to, the effect that he did not marry the opposite party in the usual form, though his subsequent statement was to the effect that he never married her at all. The only evidence regarding the actual celebration of the alleged marriage is that of the opposite party herself, and the question is whether the Magistrate was justified in relying upon this evidence, taken together with the circumstantial evidence referred to above.
2. The parties are both Madrasis of the domestic servant class, and are probably people of low caste, among whom nika marriages are recognized. The marriage, if it took place at all, took place some 17 or 18 years ago, and there is evidence that the priest who celebrated the marriage is dead. In these circumstances, it would not be reasonable to expect very strict proof of the actual celebration of the marriage, and I am not prepared to hold that the Magistrate was wrong in relying on the evidence of the opposite partly and in finding that the marriage had been duly proved. The Rule is therefore discharged.