April 9, 2021 7:11:04 pm
CHANGING or not changing the name or surname by a woman after her marriage has no effect on her marital status, a magistrate’s court said in a recent order while deciding on an application for maintenance by a woman married to a police constable.
“It is not the rule of law or mandatory that a woman should have changed her name or surname after her marriage or remarriage and use the surname of her present husband with her own name. In my view, it is the sweet choice and the right of any woman or any human being to use any name or surname as per his or her own choice. Further, in my view, changing or not changing the name or surname by any married woman, does not make any effect on her marital status,” the court said.
The court’s observation was in response to the policeman’s contention that the woman was still using her name and the surname of her previous husband who had died.
The woman had filed her application under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act stating that she had married the constable in 1996 but suddenly his behaviour towards her changed and he left her in 2009. She was left with nothing but a pension of Rs 800 and sought maintenance as per the Act. She also said that he had pressed her neck during every quarrel they had and sought compensation and damages for the mental torture and emotional distress caused by him.
The man had denied that he was married to her at all and claimed that he was already married. The woman claimed that she had at first refused to marry the accused as she was a widow with three children but had subsequently relented after his insistence.
The man claimed that he had only tried to help her as a police constable in a proceeding against her under the Maharashtra Prohibition Act and she had taken advantage of his generosity by filing a false case.
Among the proofs submitted by the woman were photographs of them together as well as testimonies of her children who said that he had participated in their weddings as their father. The court admitted the photographs and the testimonies as evidence.
It also said that the evidence proved that they shared a household, which brings the provisions of the Act into consideration. The man had claimed that there was no proper marriage ceremony as per the woman’s own admission.
“But, in India there are different forms and ceremonies of marriage in different religions, castes and communities. It appears that proper ceremony was performed in the marriage of the applicant and the respondent. Therefore, it is proved that the applicant has shared the household with the respondent in the nature of her marriage,” the court said.
The court also said that the evidence showed that the fact that the man was already married to another woman came to light only in 2009 and the woman cannot be held responsible for this as the man had concealed this information.
“The relatives and the friends of the applicant (woman) and the respondent(man) were treating them as husband and wife. In my view, standard and conclusive proof of marriage is not necessary but the relationship of marriage can be gathered from the behaviour and representation of the said spouse,” the court said.
While there was no recent record of the policeman’s salary produced before the court, it considered the minimum salary of a policeman of at least Rs 60,000 currently and ordered him to pay maintenance of Rs 7,000 from the date of the application made in 2010 and also provide accommodation to her as per standard of his living within two months.
It also passed prohibitory orders for restraining him from causing any act of domestic violence on the woman. The court said the woman had not filed any documentary or oral evidence to make and calculate physical and mental damage caused to her and that her statements in this regard were vague, directing her to be paid Rs 5,000 in damages as against the Rs 4 lakh sought by her.
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