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Mr. Anurag Mittal vs Mrs. Shaily Mishra Mittal on 24 August, 2018

Reportable

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Civil Appeal No.18312 of 2017

MR. ANURAG MITTAL …… APPELLANT (S)
Versus
MRS. SHAILY MISHRA MITTAL …….. RESPONDENT (S)

JUDGMENT

L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.

1. By a judgment dated 31.08.2009, the Additional

District Judge, North, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi allowed the

petition filed by Ms. Rachna Aggarwal under Section 13

(1) (i) (a) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (hereinafter

referred to as “the Act’) and dissolved the marriage

between her and the Appellant. By the said judgment

the petition filed under Section 9 of the Act by the

Appellant for restitution of conjugal rights was dismissed.
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
CHARANJEET KAUR
The Appellant filed appeals against the said judgment
Date: 2018.08.24
16:28:07 IST
Reason:

and the operation of the judgment and decree dated

31.08.2009 was stayed by the High Court on 20.11.2009.

1
During the pendency of the Appeal, the Appellant and

Ms. Rachna Aggarwal reached a settlement before the

Mediation Centre, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi. According to

the terms of the settlement dated 15.10.2011, the

Appellant had to move an application for withdrawal of

the Appeals within 30 days. The Appellant filed an

application to withdraw the appeals before the High

Court in terms of the settlement dated 15.10.2011 which

was taken up on 28.11.2011 by the Registrar of the High

Court of Delhi. He recorded that there was a settlement

reached between the parties before the Mediation

Centre, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi and listed the matter

before the Court on 20.12.2011. The High Court

dismissed the appeals filed by the Appellant as

withdrawn in terms of the settlement by an order dated

20.12.2011. In the meanwhile, the Appellant married the

Respondent on 06.12.2011. Matrimonial discord

between the Appellant and the Respondent led to the

filing of a petition by the Respondent for declaring the

marriage as void under Section 5 (i) read with Section 11

of the Act. The main ground in the petition was that the

2
appeal filed by the Appellant against the decree of

divorce dated 31st August, 2009 was pending on the date

of their marriage i.e. 06.12.2011. The Family Court

dismissed the petition filed by the Respondent. The

Respondent challenged the judgment of the Family Court

in the High Court. By a judgment dated 10.08.2016, the

High Court set aside the judgment of the Family Court

and allowed the appeal of the Respondent and declared

the marriage between the Appellant and the Respondent

held on 06.12.2011 as null and void. Aggrieved by the

judgment of the High Court, the Appellant has

approached this Court.

2. As a pure question of law arises for our consideration

in this case, we make it clear that we are not dealing

with the merits of the allegations made by both sides.

The points that arises for consideration are:

a) Whether the dismissal of the appeal relates
back to the date of filing of the application
for withdrawal?

b) Whether the marriage dated 06.12.2011
between the Appellant and the Respondent

3
during the pendency of the appeal against
the decree of divorce is void?

3. The Family Court framed only one substantial issue

as to whether the marriage between the parties was null

and void on account of the contravention of Section 5 (i)

of the Act. It was held by the Family Court that the

judgment and decree of divorce dated 31.08.2009 is a

judgment in rem which was neither reversed nor set

aside by a superior court. As the judgment was

confirmed by the High Court, the marriage between the

parties stood dissolved w.e.f. 31.08.2009 itself. The

Family Court also observed that there is no provision in

the Act which declares a marriage in contravention of

Section 15 to be void. It was further held by the Family

Court that the effect of stay of the judgment by a

superior court is only that the decree of divorce remained

in abeyance but it did not become non-existent. On the

other hand, the High Court framed a question whether

the Appellant could have contracted a second marriage

after the decree of divorce was passed on 31.08.2009

notwithstanding the operation of the decree being

4
stayed. The High Court was of the opinion that any

marriage solemnized by a party during the pendency

of the appeal wherein the operation of the decree of

divorce was stayed, would be in contravention of Section

5 (i) of the Act.

4. Section 11 of the Act provides that any marriage

solemnized after commencement of the Act shall be null

and void if it contravenes any of the conditions specified

in Clauses (i), (iv) and (v) of Section 5. Clause (i) of

Section 5 places a bar on marriage by a person who has

a spouse living at the time of the marriage. Section 15 of

the Act which is relevant is as follows:

“15. Divorced persons. When may marry again.-
When a marriage has been dissolved by a decree of
divorce and either there is no right of appeal against the
decree or, if there is such a right of appeal, the time for
appealing has expired without an appeal having been
presented, or an appeal has been presented but has been
dismissed, it shall be lawful for either party to the
marriage to marry again.”

5. There is no dispute that the marriage between the

Appellant and the Respondent was held on 06.12.2011

during the pendency of the appeals filed by the Appellant

against the decree of divorce in favour of Ms. Rachna

Aggarwal. It is also clear from the record that the

5
appeals were dismissed as withdrawn on 20.12.2011

pursuant to an application for withdrawal that was placed

before the Registrar on 28.11.2011. The Family Court

has rightly held that the decree of divorce is a judgment

in rem.1

6. It is pertinent to take note of the Proviso to Section 15

of the Act according to which it shall not be lawful for the

respective parties to marry again unless at the time of

such marriage at least one year has elapsed from the

date of the decree in the Court of first instance. This

Proviso was repealed w.e.f. 27.05.1976. 2 In Lila Gupta

v. Laxmi Narain3, Rajender Kumar contracted second

marriage with Lila Gupta before the expiry of one year

from the date of decree of divorce. This Court was

concerned with a point relating to the marriage between

Rajender Kumar and Lila Gupta being void having been

contracted in violation of the Proviso to Section 15 of the

Act. In the said context this Court observed as follows:

“8. Did the framers of law intend that a marriage
contracted in violation of the provision contained in

1 Marsh v. Marsh 1945 AC 271
2 Hindu Marriage (Amendment ) Act, 1976, Act 68 of 1976
3 (1978) 3 SCC 258

6
the proviso to Section 15 to be void? While enacting
the legislation, the framers had in mind the question
of treating certain marriages void and provided for
the same. It would, therefore, be fair to infer as
legislative exposition that a marriage in breach of
other conditions the legislature did not intend to treat
as void. While prescribing conditions for valid
marriage in Section 5 each of the six conditions was
not considered so sacrosanct as to render marriage in
breach of each of it void. This becomes manifest from
a combined reading of Sections 5 and 11 of the Act. If
the provision in the proviso is interpreted to mean
personal incapacity for marriage for a certain period
and, therefore, the marriage during that period was
by a person who had not the requisite capacity to
contract the marriage and hence void, the same
consequence must follow where there is breach of
condition (iii) of Section 5 which also provides for
personal incapacity to contract marriage for a certain
period. When minimum age of the bride and the
bridegroom for a valid marriage is prescribed in
condition (iii) of Section 5 it would only mean personal
incapacity for a period because every day the person
grows and would acquire the necessary capacity on
reaching the minimum age. Now, before attaining the
minimum age if a marriage is contracted Section 11
does not render it void even though Section 18 makes
it punishable. Therefore, even where a marriage in
breach of a certain condition is made punishable yet
the law does not treat it as void. The marriage in
breach of the proviso is neither punishable nor does
Section 11 treat it void. Would it then be fair to
attribute an intention to the legislature that by
necessary implication in casting the proviso in the
negative expression, the prohibition was absolute and
the breach of it would render the marriage void? If
void marriages were specifically provided for it is not
proper to infer that in some cases express provision is
made and in some other cases voidness had to be
inferred by necessary implication. It would be all the
more hazardous in the case of marriage laws to treat
a marriage in breach of a certain condition void even
though the law does not expressly provide for it.
Craies on Statute Law, 7th Edn., P. 263 and 264 may
be referred to with advantage:

“The words in this section are negative words,
and are clearly prohibitory of the marriage being had

7
without the prescribed requisites, but whether the
marriage itself is void … is a question of very great
difficulty. It is to be recollected that there are no
words in the Act rendering the marriage void, and I
have sought in vain or any case in which a marriage
has been declared null and void unless there were
words in the statute expressly so declaring
it (emphasis supplied). . . . From this examination of
these Acts I draw two conclusions. First, that there
never appears to have been a decision where words
in a statute relating to marriage, though prohibitory
and negative, have been held to infer a nullity unless
such nullity was declared in the Act. Secondly, that,
viewing the successive marriage Acts, it appears that
prohibitory words, without a declaration of nullity,
were not considered by the legislature to create a
nullity [Ed. Quoting Catterall v. Sweetman, (1845) 9
Jur 951, 954] .”

9. In the Act under discussion there is a specific
provision for treating certain marriages contracted in
breach of certain conditions prescribed for valid
marriage in the same Act as void and simultaneously
no specific provision having been made for treating
certain other marriages in breach of certain
conditions as void. In this background even though
the proviso is couched in prohibitory and negative
language, in the absence of an express provision it is
not possible to infer nullity in respect of a marriage
contracted by a person under incapacity prescribed
by the proviso.

10. Undoubtedly the proviso opens with a prohibition
that: “It shall not be lawful” etc. Is it an absolute
prohibition violation of which would render the act a
nullity? A person whose marriage is dissolved by a
decree of divorce suffers an incapacity for a period of
one year for contracting second marriage. For such a
person it shall not be lawful to contract a second
marriage within a period of one year from the date of
the decree of the Court of first instance. While
granting a decree for divorce, the law interdicts and
prohibits a marriage for a period of one year from the
date of the decree of divorce. Does the inhibition for a
period indicate that such marriage would be void?
While there is a disability for a time suffered by a
party from contracting marriage, every such disability
does not render the marriage void. A submission that

8
the proviso is directory or at any rate not mandatory
and decision bearing on the point need not detain us
because the interdict of law is that it shall not be
lawful for a certain party to do a certain thing which
would mean that if that act is done it would be
unlawful. But whenever a statute prohibits a certain
thing being done thereby making it unlawful without
providing for consequence of the breach, it is not
legitimate to say that such a thing when done is void
because that would tantamount to saying that every
unlawful act is void. As pointed out earlier, it would be
all the more inadvisable in the field of marriage laws.
Consequences of treating a marriage void are so
serious and far reaching and are likely to affect
innocent persons such as children born during the
period anterior to the date of the decree annulling the
marriage that it has always been considered not safe
to treat a marriage void unless the law so enacts or
the inference of the marriage being treated void is
either inescapable or irresistible. Therefore, even
though the proviso is couched in a language
prohibiting a certain thing being done, that by itself is
not sufficient to treat the marriage contracted in
contravention of it as void.”

7. In the said judgment, this Court also had occasion to

deal with the continuance of the marital tie even after

the decree of divorce for the period of incapacity as

provided in the Proviso to Section 15 of the Act. In the

said context, this Court held as follows:

“13. To say that such provision continues the
marriage tie even after the decree of divorce for the
period of incapacity is to attribute a certain status to
the parties whose marriage is already dissolved by
divorce and for which there is no legal sanction. A
decree of divorce breaks the marital tie and the
parties forfeit the status of husband and wife in
relation to each other. Each one becomes competent
to contract another marriage as provided by Section

15. Merely because each one of them is prohibited
from contracting a second marriage for a certain
period it could not be said that despite there being a

9
decree of divorce for certain purposes the first
marriage subsists or is presumed to subsist. Some
incident of marriage does survive the decree of
divorce; say, liability to pay permanent alimony but
on that account it cannot be said that the marriage
subsists beyond the date of decree of divorce. Section
13 which provides for divorce in terms says that a
marriage solemnised may on a petition presented by
the husband or the wife be dissolved by a decree of
divorce on one or more of the grounds mentioned in
that section. The dissolution is complete once
the decree is made, subject of course, to
appeal. But a final decree of divorce in terms
dissolves the marriage. No incident of such dissolved
marriage can bridge and bind the parties whose
marriage is dissolved by divorce at a time posterior to
the date of decree. An incapacity for second marriage
for a certain period does not have effect of treating
the former marriage as subsisting. During the period
of incapacity the parties cannot be said to be the
spouses within the meaning of clause (i), sub-section
(1) of Section 5. The word “spouse” has been
understood to connote a husband or a wife which
term itself postulates a subsisting marriage. The word
“spouse” in sub-section (1) of Section 5 cannot be
interpreted to mean a former spouse because even
after the divorce when a second marriage is
contracted if the former spouse is living that would
not prohibit the parties from contracting the marriage
within the meaning of clause (i) of sub-section (1) of
Section 5. The expression “spouse” in clause ( i), sub-
section (1) of Section 5 by its very context would not
include within its meaning the expression “former
spouse”.

(underlining ours)

8. After a comprehensive review of the scheme of the Act

and the legislative intent, this Court in Lila Gupta (supra)

held that a marriage in contravention of the proviso to

Section 15 is not void. Referring to Sections 5 and 11 of

10
the Act, this Court found that a marriage contracted in

breach of only some of the conditions renders the

marriage void. This Court was also conscious of the

absence of any penalty prescribed for contravention of

the proviso to Section 15 of the Act. This Court referred

to the negative expression “it shall not be lawful” used in

proviso to Section 15 which indicates that the prohibition

was absolute. In spite of the absolute prohibition, this

Court was of the view that a marriage contracted in

violation of the proviso to Section 15 was not void. There

was a further declaration that the dissolution of a

marriage is in rem and unless and until a Court of appeal

reversed it, marriage for all purposes was not subsisting.

The dissolution of the marriage is complete once the

decree is made, subject of course to appeal. This Court

also decided that incapacity for second marriage for a

certain period of time does not have the effect of treating

the former marriage as subsisting and the expression

‘spouse’ would not include within its meaning the

expression ‘former spouse’.

11

9. The majority judgment was concerned only with the

interpretation of proviso to Section 15 of the Act. Justice

Pathak in his concurring judgment referred to Section 15,

but refrained from expressing any opinion on its

interpretation.

Effective date of the Dismissal of Appeal

10. In case of a dissolution of marriage, a second

marriage shall be lawful only after dismissal of the

appeal. Admittedly, the marriage between the Appellant

and the Respondent was on 06.12.2011 i.e. before the

order of withdrawal was passed by the Court on

20.12.2011. There is no dispute that the application for

withdrawal of the appeal was filed on 28.11.2011 i.e.

prior to the date of the marriage on 06.12.2011. We

proceed to consider the point that whether the date of

dismissal of the appeal relates back to the date of filing

of the application for withdrawal of the appeal. Order XXI

Rule 89 (2) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

(hereinafter referred to as “the CPC”) provides that

unless an application filed under Order XXI Rule 90 of the

12
CPC is withdrawn, a person shall not be entitled to make

or prosecute an application under Order XXI Rule 89 of

the CPC. In Shiv Prasad v. Durga Prasad,4 the

contention of the Appellant therein that an application

filed under the aforesaid Rule 90 does not stand

withdrawn until an order to the effect is recorded by the

Court, was not accepted. It was held that every

applicant has a right to unconditionally withdraw his

application and his unilateral act in that behalf is

sufficient. No order of the Court is necessary permitting

the withdrawal of the application. This Court concluded

that the act of withdrawal is complete as soon as the

applicant intimates the Court that he intends to withdraw

the application. The High Court of Bombay in Anil

Dinmani Shankar Joshi v. Chief Officer, Panvel

Municipal Council, Panvel5 followed the judgment of

this Court in Shiv Prasad (supra) and held that the said

judgment is applicable to suits also. The High Court

recognized the unconditional right of the plaintiff to

withdraw his suit and held that the withdrawal would be
4 (1975) 1 SCC 405
5 AIR 2003 Bom. 238, 239

13
complete as soon as the plaintiff files his purshis of

withdrawal.

11. Order XXIII Rule 1 (1) of the CPC enables the

plaintiff to abandon his suit or abandon a part of his

claim against all or any of the defendants. Order XXIII

Rule 1 (3) of the CPC requires the satisfaction of the

Court for withdrawal of the suit by the plaintiff in case he

is seeking liberty to institute a fresh suit. While

observing that the word abandonment in Order XXIII Rule

1 (1) of the CPC is “absolute withdrawal” which is

different from the withdrawal after taking permission of

the court, this Court held as follows6:

“12. The law as to withdrawal of suits as enacted in
the present Rule may be generally stated in two parts:

(a) a plaintiff can abandon a suit or abandon a part
of his claim as a matter of right without the
permission of the court; in that case he will be
precluded from suing again on the same cause of
action. Neither can the plaintiff abandon a suit or a
part of the suit reserving to himself a right to bring a
fresh suit, nor can the defendant insist that the
plaintiff must be compelled to proceed with the suit;
and

(b) a plaintiff may, in the circumstances mentioned
in sub-rule (3), be permitted by the court to
withdraw from a suit with liberty to sue afresh on
the same cause of action. Such liberty being granted

6 K.S. Bhoopathy v. Kokila (2000) 5 SCC 458

14
by the Court enables the plaintiff to avoid the bar in
Order II Rule 2 and Section 11 CPC.”

12. Order XXIII Rule 1 (1) of the CPC gives an

absolute right to the plaintiff to withdraw his suit or

abandon any part of his claim. There is no doubt that

Order XXIII Rule 1 of the CPC is applicable to appeals as

well and the Appellant has the right to withdraw his

appeal unconditionally and if he makes such an

application to the Court, it has to grant it. 7 Therefore, the

appeal is deemed to have been withdrawn on 28.11.2011

i.e. the date of the filing of the application for withdrawal.

On 06.12.2011 which is the date of the marriage

between the Appellant and the Respondent, Ms. Rachna

Aggarwal cannot be considered as a living spouse.

Hence, Section 5 (i) is not attracted and the marriage

between the Appellant and the Respondent cannot be

declared as void.

13. Sh. Sakha Ram Singh, learned Senior Counsel

appearing for the Respondent placed reliance on a

judgment of this Court in Lila Gupta (supra) to submit

that the marriage between the Appellant and the
7 Bijayananda Patnaik v. Satrughna Sahu (1962) 2 SCR 538, 550

15
Respondent held on 06.12.2011 is void as it was in

violation of Section 15 of the Act. He relied upon the

concurring judgment of Justice Pathak in support of his

submission that the findings pertaining to Proviso to

Section 15 cannot be made applicable to Section 15. He

submitted that there is a qualitative difference between

the period of incapacity set out in the Proviso during

which a second marriage cannot be contracted and the

bar for another marriage during the pendency of an

appeal. We have already noted that Justice Pathak

refrained from expressing any view on the expression of

Section 15 of the Act. However, the scope and purport of

Section 15 of the Act arise for consideration in the

present case.

Interpretation of Section 15

Interpretation has been explained by Cross in Statutory
Interpretation8 as:

“The meaning that the Court ultimately attaches to the
statutory words will frequently be that which it
believes members of the legislature attached to them,
or the meaning which they would have attached to the
words had the situation before the Court been present
to their minds. Interpretation is the process by which
the Court determines the meaning of a statutory

8 Cross Statutory Interpretation, Ed. Dr. John Bell Sir George Ingale, Second
Edition (1987)

16
provision for the purpose of applying it to the situation
before it”.

14. The Hindu Marriage Act is a social welfare

legislation and a beneficent legislation and it has to be

interpreted in a manner which advances the object of the

legislation. The Act intends to bring about social

reforms.9 It is well known that this Court cannot interpret

a socially beneficial legislation on the basis as if the

words therein are cast in stone.10

15. The predominant nature of the purposive

interpretation was recognized by this Court in Shailesh

Dhairyawan v. Mohan Balkrishna Lulla11 which is as

follows:

“ 33. We may also emphasise that the statutory
interpretation of a provision is never static but is
always dynamic. Though the literal rule of
interpretation, till some time ago, was treated as the
“golden rule”, it is now the doctrine of purposive
interpretation which is predominant, particularly in
those cases where literal interpretation may not
serve the purpose or may lead to absurdity. If it
brings about an end which is at variance with the
purpose of statute, that cannot be countenanced.

Not only legal process thinkers such as Hart and
Sacks rejected intentionalism as a grand strategy for
statutory interpretation, and in its place they offered
purposivism, this principle is now widely applied by

9 Parayankandiyal Eravath Kanapravan Kalliani Amma v. K. Devi (1996) 4 SCC 76, para 68
10 Revanasiddappa v. Mallikarjun, (2011) 11 SCC 1, para 40
11 (2016) 3 SCC 619

17
the courts not only in this country but in many other
legal systems as well.”

16. In Salomon v. Salomon Co Ltd.12, Lord

Watson observed that :

“In a Court of Law or Equity, what the legislature
intended to be done or not to be done can only be
legitimately ascertained from that which it has chosen
to enact, either in express words or by reasonable and
necessary implication.”

In Black-Clawson International Ltd. v. Papierwerke

Waldhof-Aschaffenburg AG13, Lord Reid held that:

“We often say that we are looking for the intention of
Parliament, but that is not quite accurate. We are
seeking the meaning of the words which Parliament
used. We are seeking not what Parliament meant but
the true meaning of what they said.”

17. It is also relevant to take note of Dy. Custodian

v. Official Receiver14 in which it was declared that “ if it

appears that the obvious aim and object of the statutory

provisions would be frustrated by accepting the literal

construction suggested by the Respondent, then it may

be open to the Court to inquire whether an alternative

construction which would serve the purpose of achieving

the aim and object of the Act, is reasonably possible” .

12 [1897] AC 22 at 38
13 [1975] AC 591, p. 613
14 (1965) 1 SCR 220 at 225 F – G

18

18. Section 15 of the Act provides that it shall be

lawful for either party to marry again after dissolution of

a marriage if there is no right of appeal against the

decree. A second marriage by either party shall be

lawful only after dismissal of an appeal against the

decree of divorce, if filed. If there is no right of appeal,

the decree of divorce remains final and that either party

to the marriage is free to marry again. In case an appeal

is presented, any marriage before dismissal of the appeal

shall not be lawful. The object of the provision is to

provide protection to the person who has filed an appeal

against the decree of dissolution of marriage and to

ensure that the said appeal is not frustrated. The

purpose of Section 15 of the Act is to avert complications

that would arise due to a second marriage during the

pendency of the appeal, in case the decree of dissolution

of marriage is reversed. The protection that is afforded

by Section 15 is primarily to a person who is contesting

the decree of divorce.

19

19. Aggrieved by the decree of divorce, the Appellant

filed an appeal and obtained a stay of the decree.

During the pendency of the appeal, there was a

settlement between him and his former spouse.

After entering into a settlement, he did not intend to

contest the decree of divorce. His intention was made

clear by filing of the application for withdrawal. It cannot

be said that he has to wait till a formal order is passed in

the appeal, or otherwise his marriage dated 06.12.2011

shall be unlawful. Following the principles of purposive

construction, we are of the opinion that the restriction

placed on a second marriage in Section 15 of the Act till

the dismissal of an appeal would not apply to a case

where parties have settled and decided not to pursue the

appeal.

20. It is not the case of the Appellant that the

marriage dated 06.12.2011 is lawful because of the

interim order that was passed in the appeals filed by him

against the decree of divorce. He rested his case on the

petition filed for withdrawal of the appeal. The upshot of

20
the above discussion would be that the denouement of

the Family Court is correct and upheld, albeit for different

reasons. The conclusion of the High Court that the

marriage dated 06.12.2011 is void is erroneous. Hence,

the judgment of the High Court is set aside.

21. Accordingly, the Appeal is allowed.

……….……..J.

[S.A. BOBDE]

………..………………..J.

[L. NAGESWARA RAO]
NEW DELHI,
August 24th 2018

21
REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL No. 18312 Of 2017

MR. ANURAG MITTAL … APPELLANT(S)

Versus

MRS. SHAILY MISHRA MITTAL … RESPONDENT(S)

JUDGMENT

S.A.BOBDE, J.

1. I am in agreement with the view taken by Nageswara Rao J.

but it is necessary to state how the question before us has already

been settled by the decision in Lila Gupta v. Laxmi Narain and Ors.1.

Even when the words of the proviso were found to be prohibitory in

clear negative terms – “it shall not be lawful” etc., this Court held that

the incapacity to marry imposed by the proviso did not lead to an

inference of nullity, vide para 9 of Lila Gupta (supra). It is all the

more difficult to infer nullity when there is no prohibition; where there

are no negative words but on the other hand positive words like “it

shall be lawful.” Assuming that a marriage contracted before it

became lawful to do so was unlawful and the words create a

disability, it is not possible to infer a nullity or voidness vide paras 9

1
(1978) 3 SCC 258
1
and 10 of Lila Gupta case. The Court must have regard to the

consequences of such an interpretation on children who might have

been conceived or born during the period of disability.

2. The observations in Lila Gupta’s case are wide. They are

undoubtedly made in the context of the proviso to sec 15 of the

Hindu Marriage (Amendment) Act, 1976 2, since deleted. The proviso

opened with the prohibition that “it shall not be lawful.” This Court

considered the question whether a marriage contracted in violation of

the proviso would be a nullity or void and came to the conclusion that

though the proviso is couched in prohibitory and negative language,

in the absence of an express provision it was not possible to infer

nullity in respect of a marriage contracted by a person under

incapacity prescribed by the proviso.

What is held in essence is that if a provision of law prescribes

an incapacity to marry and yet the person marries while under that

incapacity, the marriage would not be void in the absence of an

express provision that declares nullity. Quae incapacity imposed by

statute, there is no difference between an incapacity imposed by

negative language such as “it shall not be lawful” or an incapacity

imposed by positive language like “it shall be lawful (in certain

conditions, in the absence of which it is impliedly unlawful)”. It would

thus appear that the law is already settled by this Court that a

marriage contracted during a prescribed period will not be void

because it was contracted under an incapacity. Obviously, this would
2
Act 68 of 1976
2
have no bearing on the other conditions of a valid marriage. The

decision in Lila Gupta case thus covers the present case on law.

3. In any event, in the present case we are satisfied that the

appellant’s marriage was not subsisting when he married again. He

had filed an application for withdrawal of his appeal against the

decree for dissolution and had done nothing to contradict his

intention to accept the decree of dissolution.

…………………………J.

[ S.A. BOBDE ]

NEW DELHI,
AUGUST 24, 2018

3

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