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India: Supreme Court Rules Woman, Child Entitled to Alimony

The Supreme Court of India recently ruled against a man claiming he did not have to pay alimony because his ex-wife was pregnant at the time of marriage. India’s high court ruled that a marriage could not be held to be invalid or illegal if a husband was aware that his bride was pregnant at the time of marriage. Therefore, as in any divorce case, the Supreme Court ruled, the wife is entitled to monetary support for herself and the child, The Times of India reports.

According to The Hindu, two justices of the Supreme Court set aside judgments by the Kerala High Court and the trial court saying that a marriage is void if the woman was pregnant at time of the marriage. The Hindu reported that the justices found it “difficult to believe that a woman who is five months pregnant [would] be able to conceal the pregnancy from the husband as such an advanced state of pregnancy could not be concealed as the pregnancy starts showing at that time. Therefore, we cannot accept that the husband did not know about it.”

The case the court was ruling on was the marriage of a couple that had taken place in December 1972, when the woman was already in her fifth month of pregnancy. The woman’s child was born in April 1973, and the husband divorced the wife in 1977, as reported by The Times of India. When the wife sought support under the Criminal Procedure Code for herself and the child, the husband refused to pay her alimony saying his wife was already pregnant at the time of marriage and hence the marriage was invalid and void. In response the Supreme Court stated, “the husband was present during the delivery, gave his name to the child and brought her up for four years but when it came for paying maintenance he raised the plea that the marriage was invalid,” according to The Times of India.

Sources:

The Times of India 4/30/03; The Hindu 4/30/03