Court opens new route for ‘second wife’ to claim alimony


Nagpur: In a ruling with far-reaching ramifications, the Bombay High Court has ruled that a man’s “second wife” can seek maintenance from her husband under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

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Justice A.B. Choudhary of the high court’s Nagpur bench made the observation last week while rejecting the maintenance plea filed by a city housewife, Manda Thaore, 45, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

However, Justice Choudhary said, she could move the court under the domestic violence act for seeking maintenance, accommodation and other benefits from her husband, Ramaji G. Thaore, 59. She wedded Thaore nearly 27 years ago.

Manda used to work as a domestic help in Ramaji’s house and he later fathered her two children without divorcing his first wife Prabha, from whom he had three daughters.

The judge directed Thaore to pay petitioner Manda a compensation of Rs.15,000 as costs.

“It is clear that the husband has treated Manda as if she was his wife,” Justice Choudhary observed, though it was a second marriage.

The judge further said that Thaore had cheated Manda and kept sexual relationships with her, leading to the birth of two children.

“But, as held by the Supreme Court, no estoppel can operate against the law and, therefore, despite holding that there has been close relationship between the two and that Thaore treated her like wife and had children, this court cannot help Manda in getting maintenance,” Justice Choudhary said.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, while a legally wedded wife can claim maintenance and alimony, besides a share in the family property, a “second wife” cannot claim her legal rights unless the man divorces his first wife.

Justice Choudhary said that though his court was unable to do anything in this unfortunate case, he felt it to be a fit case for Manda to seek recourse from the domestic voilence act and claim maintenance, accommodation and other benefits.

Thaore wedded Prabha in 1965. He wedded Manda in 1983.

Manda moved a local family court demanding maintenance in 2005, but her plea was rejected and she challenged it before the high court.

Thaore opposed Manda’s plea on the ground that she could not claim maintenance as she was his “second wife” and he had not yet divorced his wife Prabha.