November 18, 2009 7:06:28 pm
In a ruling that could benefit the second wife of a married man,the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that such women too on the husband’s death are entitled to compassionate appointment in government jobs,as long as the first wife has no objection to it.
Under the Hindu Marriage Act,a man can have only one wife during the subsistence of a marriage as wedding for the second time amounts to crime under Section 494 IPC and Section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act,inviting punishment up to seven years RI.
“When the two wives have come to an understanding who are you to oppose it? why should you be bothered,if one wife seeks compassionate appointment and another wants the compensatory benefits,” a bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and R M Lodha asked,while dismissing a Karnataka Government’s appeal. Counsel M Qamaruddin appeared for Lakshmi,the second wife.
The apex court rejected the government’s argument that under the Hindu Marriage Act,since a man cannot have two wives during the subsistence of the marriage,the so-called second wife cannot claim any right of appointment by merely entering into an agreement with the first wife.
“If you are not a party to the agreement how does it matter,the two wives have reached a settlement,” the bench observed.
The bench passed the order on an appeal filed by the state challenging a direction of the Karnataka High Court to the Government to consider the appointment of Lakshmi,second wife of G Hanumanthe Gowda,a head constable of the Armed Reserve Police.
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