Friday, July 30, 2010

Pension right restored for second wife

A retired Tamil teacher, now 62, from Parithikudi in Sivaganga district had divorced his first wife in September 1998 and married another woman after a month. But the office of the Accountant-General (Accounts and Entitlements) refused to record his second wife’s name in the pension documents because she had begotten a child within two months of their marriage.

According to the Tamil pundit, who retired in 2005, the marriage with his first wife was dissolved by mutual consent on September 14, 1998, through a decree passed by a Family Court under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act. Thereafter, he married another woman on October 26, 1998, and registered the marriage in Chokkikulam here.

However, the Accountant-General (A&E) on November 30, 2004, refused to record the second wife’s name in the pension documents thereby disabling her from receiving the monthly pension after her husband’s demise. Pointing out that she had begotten a girl child on December 17, 1998, the official concluded that the second marriage ought to have taken place even before the first marriage was dissolved.

Aggrieved over the refusal to recognise his second marriage, the pundit filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court Bench here. He claimed that the officers failed to consider the valid documents possessed by him to prove that he married his second wife only after divorcing the first. A government servant was not supposed to marry for the second time if the first marriage had not been dissolved.

Finding force in the submissions, Justice R.S. Ramanathan said the AG’s office had made the wrong assumption that the petitioner had indulged in polygamy just because the second wife begot a child within two months of marriage. "For begetting a child, there is no need to undergo a form of marriage," the judge said.

He directed the AG’s office to record the name of the petitioner’s second wife in the documents concerned thereby recognising her as the pundit’s dependant. The judge pointed out that the divorce decree and documents pertaining to registration of the second marriage were enough to prove the legality of the marriage.

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