Tuesday, 15 March 2011

HC: Bigamy even on consent is criminal offence....

Bigamy criminal offence, says court

March 15, 2011 DC chennai

March 14: The Madras high court has held that even with the consent of the first wife, a marriage among persons covered by Hindu law was a criminal offence under the IPC and a misconduct under the Tamil Nadu Government Servants' Conduct Rules. Justice K. Chandru, however, on the ground of discrimination, set aside the order of the state government removing K. Rajeswari from service for marrying Thankavelu, a government servant, who was already married.

Mr Thankavelu was also compulsorily retired from service following disciplinary action but was subsequently reinstated as per the order of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). Allowing the petition filed by Ms Rajeswari, the judge said since the authorities have not indicated any special reason for treating the petitioner for a different treatment, except by stating that the husband and wife worked in two different departments, the impugned order has to necessarily be set aside.

However, referring to the contention that the consent of the first wife was obtained, he said, "Even with the consent of the first wife, a marriage among persons covered by Hindu law is a criminal offence under section 494 of IPC as well as a misconduct under Rule 19 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants' Conduct Rules." The judge also observed that even a government servant whose personal law permits polygamous marriages cannot marry more than once without the permission of the government as it will be violating conduct rules.

Ms Rajeswari joined the government health department in Salem in 1982 and married Mr Thankavelu, assistant in the department of treasuries and accounts, with the consent of the first wife in 1990. The government then retired Mr Thankavelu compulsorily but reinstated him after SAT set aside the order in 1995. Subsequently, Ms Rajeswari was removed from service in 2000.

She challenged the order before the tribunal and since the tribunal was abolished, the matter was transferred to the HC.


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