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Madhya Pradesh HC: False Educational Info Before Marriage Not Grounds for Divorce or Cheating Charges

Madhya Pradesh HC: False Educational Info Before Marriage Not Grounds for Divorce or Cheating Charges

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has made it clear in a recent decision that misrepresenting one's educational credentials before marriage isn't considered a valid reason for divorce, nor does it qualify as deception under Sections 415 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia, presiding over a marital dispute case, delivered the recent ruling. In this case, the petitioner, who was the husband, accused his wife (the respondent) of falsely presenting her educational qualifications before their marriage. The allegation was that she had misrepresented herself as having passed the class 12th examination with first division marks, whereas it was later discovered that she had only passed class 10th. The petitioner invoked Section 420 of the IPC, alleging fraud against the respondent. 

The court delved into the core issues of the case, addressing pivotal questions:

  • Whether the performance of a marriage by giving false information about the educational qualification would amount to an offence under Section 420 of the IPC or not?
  • Whether such an act would be an offence of cheating under Section 415 of IPC or not?
  • Whether such an allegation would be covered by Section 5 of Hindu Marriage Act or not ?
  • Whether such an allegation is sufficient to grant divorce or not?

The court ruled that the petitioner's counsel failed to demonstrate how the act of providing false educational qualifications during marriage could be construed as deceiving someone to deliver property. The court underscored that the term "deceive" inherently implies an obligation to deliver property, which was not pertinent in this scenario. Consequently, the court concluded that no offense under Section 420 of the IPC was established in this case.

In examining whether an offense of cheating had occurred, the court noted that the petitioner had not shown how the allegation of the respondent misrepresenting her educational qualifications, specifically from passing Class 12th to only passing Class 10th, would amount to deception or cheating. The court highlighted the petitioner's failure to present evidence or justification to substantiate the claim of deceit or cheating in this matter.

The court provided further clarification regarding whether the marriage would be considered void or voidable. It asserted that if a marriage is solemnized based on false information regarding educational qualifications, it would neither be classified as a void nor a voidable marriage. Additionally, the court underscored that such a situation would not fall under the purview of Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The court made it clear that merely alleging marriage based on false information regarding educational qualifications does not constitute grounds for granting divorce.

During the proceedings, the petitioner's counsel made serious allegations against the respondent's mother-in-law, including involvement in prostitution. However, these accusations were not initially included in the writ petition. The High Court expressed significant concern over such public character assassination and granted the mother-in-law the freedom to pursue legal action against the petitioners for unsubstantiated claims.

The petitioner had also levied sensational corruption allegations against police officials and accused the mother-in-law of involvement in prostitution. The court, demanding evidence to support these claims, noted that while the mother-in-law was not directly involved in the case, her character was targeted during the arguments. The petitioner clarified that these allegations stemmed from a previous complaint and were not instructions given during the ongoing case.

In this context, the court emphasized that "making general allegations of corruption against a department or its officers also constitutes defamation." Simultaneously, the court granted permission to the Police Department, which was named in the writ petition, to initiate legal action against the petitioners for making baseless defamatory statements against them.

Consequently, the bench dismissed the petition and imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000/-.

Cause Title: Bharat Singh Chouhan v State of Madhya Pradesh [WP No. 7831 of 2024]

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