A division bench of Apex Court held that, Unless there is a declaration of nullity by a competent Court or authority, a aggrieved person can take advantage of benefits under DV Act.
From Para 19,
Deoki Panjhiyara Vs Shashi Bhushan Narayan Azad and Anr on 12 Dec 2012
19. In the present case, if according to the respondent, the marriage between him and the appellant was void on account of the previous marriage between the appellant and Rohit Kumar Mishra the respondent ought to have obtained the necessary declaration from the competent court in view of the highly contentious questions raised by the appellant on the aforesaid score. It is only upon a declaration of nullity or annulment of the marriage between the parties by a competent court that any consideration of the question whether the parties had lived in a “relationship in the nature of marriage” would be justified. In the absence of any valid decree of nullity or the necessary declaration the court will have to proceed on the footing
that the relationship between the parties is one of marriage and not in the nature of marriage. We would also like to emphasise that any determination of the validity of the marriage between the parties could have been made only by a competent court in an appropriate proceeding by and between the parties and in compliance with all other requirements of law. Mere production of a marriage certificate issued under Section 13 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in support of the claimed first marriage of the appellant with Rohit Kumar Mishra was not sufficient for any of the courts, including the High Court, to render a complete and effective decision with regard to the marital status of the parties and that too in a collateral proceeding for maintenance. Consequently, we hold that in the present case until the invalidation of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent is made by a competent court it would only be correct to proceed on the basis that the appellant continues to be the wife of the respondent so as to entitle her to claim all benefits and protection available under the DV Act, 2005.
Citations: [2013 ALLMR CRI SC 1099], [2013 AIR SC 168], [2013 RCR CIVIL SC 2 400], [2013 AIR SC 346], [2013 SCC 2 137], [2013 RCR CRIMINAL SC 1 338], [2012 SCALE 12 282], [2013 CRLJ SC 684], [2012 AIOL 584], [2013 BOMCR CRI SC 1 333], [2012 SLT 9 266], [2013 SCC CIV 1 1019], [2012 SCC ONLINE SC 1035], [2013 GUJ LH 1 208], [2013 CTC 2 232], [2013 ECRN 1 913], [2013 ACR 1 1089], [2013 AD SC 3 59], [2013 AJR 2 133], [2013 AKR 1 615], [2013 ALD CRI 1 469], [2013 ALT CRI 3 70], [2013 ALT CRI 1 472], [2013 DMC SC 1 18], [2013 JLJR 1 198], [2012 JCC 1 502], [2013 JCC 1 508], [2012 JT SC 12 575], [2013 LW 2 60], [2013 LW CRL 1 330], [2013 NCC 1 322], [2013 OLR 1 891], [2013 PLJR 1 172], [2013 MLJ CRL 1 137]