Bigamy Under IPC Inapplicable Without Formal Second Marriage : Raj HC

Bigamy Under IPC Inapplicable Without Formal Second Marriage : Raj HC

The Rajasthan High Court has clarified that the offence of bigamy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not apply if a married individual cohabits with another partner without formally solemnizing a second marriage. In this particular case, the man had been living with another woman for over 20 years.

The Rajasthan High Court, presided over by a single judge bench of Justice Kuldeep Mathur, made this observation while adjudicating a case involving a married man accused of bigamy by his wife for living with another woman.

The court said, “It is settled law that the offence punishable under Section 494 IPC would be made out against any person if he/she solemnizes a marriage during the lifetime of either the husband or wife; as the case may be. The mere fact of a man and a woman living together as husband and wife would not be considered as an offence punishable under Section 494 IPC if they have not performed of a valid marriage in accordance with the existing law.”

Advocate Navneet Poonia, representing the petitioner (husband), emphasized that there were no allegations or evidence indicating that the petitioner had performed the essential religious ceremonies to solemnize a second marriage. The petitioner's wife, respondent no. 2, explicitly stated in her statement under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) that her husband had not married the woman he was cohabiting with. Additionally, it was argued that the complaint was filed after 20 years of the alleged crime, suggesting that it was motivated by a desire to harass and humiliate the petitioner rather than being based on factual grounds.

On the other hand, Public Prosecutor AR Choudhary, representing the wife, vehemently argued that the police investigation had found sufficient evidence to charge the petitioner under Section 494 IPC. The respondents maintained that whether the second marriage was valid was a matter of fact to be determined by the trial court. They also contended that even if the petitioner was cohabiting with the woman according to the customs of Nata marriage, he could still be guilty of bigamy.

The court observed that the First Information Report (FIR) was filed by the complainant—respondent No. 2—approximately 20 years after the alleged offence occurred. Importantly, both the complaint and the statements recorded under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) did not contain any allegations that the petitioner had performed essential religious ceremonies required for a valid marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The court further noted that even if the petitioner had engaged in a Nata marriage with the woman, there was no evidence that the marriage ceremonies required by personal law or the essential ceremonies for a Nata marriage were followed.

Consequently, the court allowed the criminal misc. petition and quashed the impugned orders dated January 5, 2019, and July 25, 2018, issued by the Sessions Judge, Merta, and the Senior Civil Judge and Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Degana, respectively. Additionally, the criminal proceedings pending against the petitioner for the offence under Section 494 IPC were also quashed.

Cause Title: X v State of Rajasthan [S.B. Criminal Misc(Pet.) No. 1154/2019]

Share this News

Website designed, developed and maintained by webexy