Madras High Court bench at Madurai spelt out this judgment, only applicable to marriage performed in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, regards to Bigamy in Hindus.
From Para 22,
22.A reading of the said Section will make it clear that for the validity of a marriage between two Hindus, no specific form is necessary. Either by acknowledging in the language known to eachparties that each of them takes the other as husband or wife, as the case may be, in the presence of elders and relatives or friends orother persons, or by symbolic representation of such declaration by exchanging rings, exchanging garlands or tying thali will be sufficientobservance of the formality to make a Hindu Marriage among the two Hindus in Tamil Nadu to be valid. The very fact that the sectionemployees the conjunction ‘or’ and not ‘and’ while describing formalities to be observed is very significant. It is brought to the notice of the Court by the Bar that at the time of drafting of the Bill, the conjunction ‘and’ was used and when it was placed before the reformer in Dravidar Movement namely, E.Vera.Ramasamy Periyar, for his opinion, he alone suggested the correction of the conjunction ‘and’ into ‘or’ to make it clear that the symbolic representation ‘in any one of the forms’ shall be sufficient. The section also provides for validation of marriages performed prior to the introduction of Section 7-A of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and several such marriages were saved from being held void for non observance of any of the customary rituals provided the conditions found in Section 7-A were present. After the amendment in Tamil Nadu, for convicting a person professing Hindu religion for bigamy, it shall be enough to show that the underwent a form of marriage which complies with the above condition namely, acknowledgment by words or symbolic representation of acknowledgement by exchanging garlands or exchanging of rings or tying of thali provided the marriage is with a woman professing Hindu religion. What the appellant/complainant has to prove is that but for the subsistence of the first marriage, the second marriage would have been valid.
From Para 26, Crucial Piece of Law:
26. A perusal of the said provision will make it clear that thesaid Section can be pressed into service against the first respondent alone, who contracted the second marriage during the subsistence of his marriage with the appellant/complainant. It is not the case of the appellant/complainant that the second respondent was having a husband and she married the first respondent as her second husband during the subsistence of her marriage with her first husband, in which event alone she can be roped in as an accused under Section 494 IPC. But, if it is established that she married the first respondent with the knowledge that the first respondent was already married and his first wife namely, the appellant/complainant was living and that their marriage was subsisting, she shall not be liable for the substantive offence punishable under Section 494 IPC, but shall be liable to be punished under Section 494 IPC read with Section 109 IPC for having abetted the commission of the said offence. Of course, as per Section 109 IPC when no express provision is made in the Code for the punishment of abetment of a particular offence, if the act abetted is committed in consequence of the abetment, then such abettor shall be punishable with the punishment provided for the offence. Here is a case in which the marriage has taken place and hence, if the second respondent is proved to have got the knowledge of the first marriage of the first respondent with the appellant/ complainant, then she shall be liable to be punished with the punishment prescribed under Section 494 IPC. However, when a person is to be punished for abetment of an offence, separate charge stating that she is prosecuted for abetting such an offence and that the act abetted has been committed should have been framed. The charge against the second respondent ought to have been framed as one for an offence punishable under Section 494 IPC read with Section 109 IPC. The learned trial Judge committed an error in not framing such a specific charge against the second respondent and convicting the second respondent under the substantive provision alone namely under Section 494 IPC. Even forargument sake if it is assumed that the absence of framing of such a specific charge is only an irregularity not vitiating the proceedings,unless she is proved to have agreed for the marriage with the knowledge of the subsistence of the marriage between the appellant/complainant and the first respondent, she cannot beconvicted for the offence punishable under Section 494 IPC read with Section 109 IPC. In this regard, there is absence of clear evidence,imputing direct knowledge to the second respondent regarding the subsistence of first marriage of the first respondent with theappellant/complainant.
From Para 28, Sentencing:
Saraswathi Vs Thirupathi and Anr on 24 Sep 2014
28. Regarding the sentence, the submissions made on both sides are also taken into consideration. The maximum punishment prescribed under the said penal provision, namely 494 IPC is imprisonment of either description for 7 years and also fine. The trial Judge seems to have imposed a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for three years and a fine of Rs.100/- with a default sentence of rigorous imprisonment for one week. So far as the fine amount is concerned, the trial Court seems to have shown leniency. Substantive sentence awarded by the trial Court, as contended by the learned counsel for the first respondent, is some what harsh and the same needs reduction. This Court is of the view that reducing the substantive sentence to two years rigorous imprisonment and increasing fine to Rs.1000/- from Rs.100/- with a default sentence of one month simple imprisonment shall meet the ends of justice.
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