Published on: 1 August 2023 at 14:21 IST
The Calcutta High Court emphasized that a man who marries for the second time under personal law has an unequivocal responsibility to provide for his first wife.
The court’s observation came while overturning a sessions court order that had reduced the monthly maintenance amount for the first wife of a husband from ₹6,000 to ₹4,000 [Case: Sefali Khatun @ Bibi vs State of West Bengal].
Justice Shampa Dutt (Paul), sitting as a single-judge, took note of the petitioner woman’s marriage to her husband on October 12, 2003. Allegedly, after nine years of marriage, she was driven out of her matrimonial home on October 12, 2012, as her husband’s demands for dowry were not met.
Furthermore, the husband subsequently married another woman, which led to the petitioner wife’s expulsion due to her inability to provide additional dowry.
The court’s ruling stated, “A man who can marry for the second time (permitted under personal law), is duty bound to maintain his first wife of 9 years.
A woman who has diligently, sincerely, and lovingly put in so many years of her life in a relationship with her husband deserves to be looked after and cared for by him, as long as she needs or requires the same.”
The case originated from the petitioner wife’s challenge to a sessions judge’s order issued on February 27, 2019, which had set aside the family court’s verdict dated October 6, 2016.
The family court had initially ordered the husband to pay ₹6,000 per month as maintenance to the petitioner. However, the sessions judge later reduced this amount to ₹4,000, leading to the appeal before the High Court.
The Calcutta High Court’s ruling reinforces the principle that a husband’s obligations towards his first wife remain intact despite entering into subsequent marriages.
It upholds the importance of providing financial support and care to the wife who has invested years of her life in the marital relationship.