Decided on June 19,1900

ROGHU NATH DAS Respondents


Robertson, J - (1.) The question raised by this appeal is whether the appellant was the wife and is now the widow of Raja Ram Das, who died on 27 November 1878. The suit was initiated by the appellant on 22 November, 1890 in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tirhut. The plaint and the written statement of the respondent, who, being heir of the deceased, appeared as defendant, involved other questions on which issue was joined; but these it is now unnecessary to rehearse. Many witnesses were examined and many exhibits were filed. On 19 September 1892, the Subordinate Judge of Tirhut found that the plaintiff was the lawfully married wife of Raja Ram Das and is now his widow, and he pronounced a decree for maintenance at the rate of Rs. 750 a month. An appeal having been taken to the High Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, that Court on 10 September 1895 set aside the Subordinate Judge's decree and dismissed the suit with costs. The present appeal is brought from that judgment of the High Court.
(2.) Raja Ram Das was zemindar of Jaintpore and a person of considerable wealth and position. He called himself mohant but he was not in fact a mohant. Prior to the disputed period he was unmarried, but he was free to marry; he was greatly addicted to women, and he died, under thirty years of age, of diseases induced by his excesses. At the time of the alleged marriage, which was seven months before his death, he was suffering from those ailments.
(3.) Of the personal facts relating to the appellant, it is difficult to say anything that is quite certain. She and her mother, for a purpose collateral to the present issue, have thought well to represent her as of the tender age of seven or eight at the time of her marriage; but it may be assumed that she was in fact older, and had attained puberty. Her father is a most shadowy figure in the evidence, and his identity is not certainly ascertained. Her mother's part in these proceedings is much more prominent. The respondent suggests that she was an adventuress; and both she and her daughter are, to say the least, not uniformly truthful even in matters dangerously near the essence of their claim; and they are persons whose own statements must be received with caution and whose case it is necessary to test with vigilance. At the time of the alleged marriage, Gopi Bai, the mother, was practising medicine; and, contrary to her own statement, she does not seem to have withheld the benefits of her skill from either sex. She was a Bairagi, as was also the Raja, and the Judge of the High Court, who has formed the most adverse opinion of the appellant's case, considers that Gopi Bai attended the Raja professionally and "took advantage of his dissolute and immoral habits to entangle him into living with the plaintiff.";

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