Second spouse, kin can’t be prosecuted under bigamy law: Karnataka HC | India News

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BENGALURU: Only a person who marries for a second time during the subsistence of his/her earlier marriage and the lifetime of the earlier spouse can be prosecuted and punished for bigamy under IPC section 494, not the second spouse or his/her family members, Karnataka high court has ruled. Justice Suraj Govindaraj made this clear while quashing proceedings pending before a judicial magistrate first class court in Chitradurga under section 494 against the petitioners – the parents and sister of a woman married to a person, whose first marriage was still subsisting.
The petitioners, residents of Hulugindi in Chikkamagaluru district, had challenged the proceedings initiated on a complaint lodged by a govt hospital nurse against her husband, his second wife and friend. The parents and sister of the second wife were also named in the complaint on the ground that they had participated in the marriage, knowing well that the groom’s marriage with the complainant was subsisting.
The petitioners said they could not be prosecuted under section 494 as it was applicable only to the person who had committed the offence. The complainant first wife, however, argued that because of the petitioners’ participation, the second marriage had taken place, leading to the offence under the said provision.
Justice Govindaraj, in his order, said section 494 stipulated that whoever marries during the lifetime of his/her husband/wife shall be punished with imprisonment for up to seven years, but “does not even contemplate prosecuting the person who the husband or wife has married, let alone the father, mother and sister who had participated in or attended the said second wedding”.



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