SUKHAMA DEVI Vs. NIRANJAN SINGH
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
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J.D. Jain, J. -
(1.)The facts giving rise to this Letters Patent Appeal against the judgment and decree dated 25th May 1981 of a Single Judge of this Court (passed in F.A.O. No. 43/80) may be briefly stated as under.
(2.)The Marriage of the appellant Smt. Sukhma Devi with respondent No. 1 Shri Niranjan Singh was solemnised on 26th June 1972 in accordance with Hindu rites and ceremonies, both the parties being Jat by caste and she was taken to her Matrimonial home on the next following morning. In December 1978 the husband moved an application for dissolution of the marriage by a decree of divorce on the grounds of (a) desertion, (b) cruelty, and (c) adultery. It was averred by him that the appellant left the matrimonial home on the very evening of 27th June 1972 without any just cause or reasonable excuse and as such there could be no consummation of marriage. She did not return to her matrimonial home uptil the filing of the petition for divorce although he waited for her return all these years and even the negotiations made by him through relatives and friends in this behalf did not fructify. He contended that after his marriage he came to know that the appellant had been living in adultery with respondent No. 2 who is none other than the husband of her real sister Smt. Jai Kaur. On suspecting the conjugal fidelity of the appellant he visited the house of respondent No. 2 and came to know that she was living there with respondent No. 2 and likewise she had been living there even before her marriage with him. He alluded to the following facts in order to substantiate his allegations.
1. Respondent No. 2 was employed as Bus Conductor in Delhi Transport Corporation and by exercising his influence he was instrumental in getting employment to the appellant too as a Lady Bus Conductor. 2. The appellant did not disclose in her employment record that she was a married woman. She did not mention the name of her husband and instead mentioned the name of her father with a view to give an impression that she was an unmarried woman. 3. She intentionally and knowingly described herself as belonging to a Backward Class (Banjara) at the time of joining Laxmi Bai College where she had been studying during 1972-74 and thus she had been getting scholarship from the concerned authority as being a member of a Backward Class. 4. At the time of leaving his house she took away all the ornaments and costly clothes costing about Rs. 10,000.00 which had been given by him (respondent No. 1) to her as presents at the time of their marriage and she did not return the same. 5. She did not care to join the society of respondent No. I and lead marital life all these years because of her being under the influence of respondent No. 2 with whom she was having illicit relations.
(3.)The defence taken by the appellant succinctly is that she stayed in her matrimonial home for three days and enjoyed the society of respondent No. 1. Thus, the marriage was duly consummated. Thereafter she went to her parental home on a customary visit called 'Phera' with the consent of respondent No. 1 and as per custom obtaining amongst them the latter was required to bring her back to the matrimonial home within a year. However, he failed to do so. All the same, he had been meeting her off and on at Laxmi Bai College and they had been moving about at various places including restaurants and enjoying the society of each other. Since he did not turn up to take her back to the matrimonial home, her father, her uncle Ram Kumar, her brother Vijender Singh and her cousin brother etc. called a Panchayat at village Sultanpur (to which respondent No. 1 belongs) two or three days prior to 26th June 1973. However, respondent No. 1 did not attend the Panchayat and refused to take her back unless a sum of Rs. 10,000.00 as demanded by him was given by her father. She vehemently denied having any promiscuous relations with her brother-in-law, viz., respondent No. 2, and asserted that she was selected as a Bus Conductor on merits. She pointed out that other members of her family, namely, her sister and her sister-in law (brother's wife) were too employed as Lady Bus Conductor in the Delhi Transport Corporation and respondent No. 2 had nothing to do with their appointment as such as he was just a Bus Conductor himself. As for her admission to Laxmi Bai College, she admitted that she had declared her caste as Banjara but explained that it was with a view to get admission to the College and this had happened a year before her marriage with respondent No. 1. She then studied in the said College for three years. As regards her description in the service record in the Delhi Transport Corporation, she explained that she did not give herself out as 'Miss' but simply mentioned her name 'Sukhma Devi' without indicating whether she was a married woman or not.
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