Amina vs. Hassn Koya (2003) 

Amina vs. Hassn Koya (2003) 

This article is written by Tisha Agrawal. The article deals with the case of Amina vs. Hassn Koya(2003), with reference to its facts, issues raised, arguments made, the judgement, precedents referred, as well as the concerned legal provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

The case of Amina vs. Hassn Koya (2003) deals with the legality of the marriage between the appellant and the respondent. The case traversed through lower courts and ultimately reached the Hon’ble Apex Court. The case revolved around the contention regarding the husband’s awareness of the pregnancy of his wife and the subsequent events. It was observed in this case that concealment of pregnancy alone cannot be a valid ground for rendering the marriage void. 

While delivering the judgement, the court highlighted the manner in which the legality of marriage shall be decided. The case is a significant decision because of its view on Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The court delves into the evidentiary value of the ‘conduct’ of the parties as per Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and emphasises the importance of weighing and inferring conduct while examining a case like this. 

  • Case name: Amina vs. Hassn Koya
  • Equivalent citation: (2003) 6 SCC 93
  • Acts involved: Indian Evidence Act, 1872,  Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC), Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Special Marriage Act, 1954
  • Important provisions: Section 125 of CrPC, 1973, Sections 3 and 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872
  • Bench: M.B. Shah, Arun Kumar, JJ
  • Petitioner/Appellant: Amina
  • Respondents: Hassn Koya 
  • Judgement date: April 28, 2003

The appellant in the present case was married to the respondent on 28th December 1972. Within five months of their marriage, a girl child was born to them on 28th April 1973. In 1977, the respondent divorced the appellant, subsequent to which a petition for maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC  was filed by the appellant. 

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In the concerned petition, she claimed maintenance for herself and her daughter at different rates per month. In a reply to the maintenance petition, the respondent admitted to the marriage but alleged that the appellant was already pregnant at the time of marriage and the child was not fathered by him. It was his case that this fact was concealed from him during the marriage and therefore, the marriage was invalid and void. He claimed that since his marriage was void, he was not liable to pay maintenance either to the daughter or the wife.   

When the matter went to the Magistrate Court, the court directed payment of maintenance for the wife but denied maintenance for the child. It was believed by the Court at this stage that the child is not fathered by the respondent and thus, he is not liable to pay the maintenance. This order was challenged by both the parties.

Further, an Additional Sessions Judge held the marriage between the parties to be invalid and it was followed that the husband has no liability to pay maintenance. A revision petition was filed by the appellant against this order before the High Court of Kerala. The same was dismissed by the High Court declaring the marriage to be void. Therefore, the appellant approached the Supreme Court and hence, the present judgement. 

The following issues were raised before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the above-mentioned case: – 

  • Whether there was a valid marriage between the parties or not? 
  • Whether such a marriage can be said to be void or illegal if the fact about the pregnancy of the wife was concealed from the husband at the time of marriage or not? 

The main contention of the parties revolved around the validity of their marriage and the fact about the appellant’s pregnancy. 

Arguments on behalf of the appellant 

From the appellant’s side, relevant evidence was submitted before the court. It was their case that the respondent was aware about the pregnancy. Official records from the hospital also suggested that the respondent was attending to his wife while she was going through the delivery. Afterwards, he also gave his name as the father for paperwork at the hospital.  All these actions of the respondent suggest that he had no problem with the pregnancy or the child. Even after the birth of the child, they were in their marriage for over four years before getting a divorce. 

Arguments on behalf of the respondent 

It was argued by the respondent’s side that at the time of their marriage, he was not aware of the fact that she was five months pregnant. This fact was deliberately concealed from him by the appellant, therefore, this shall render the contract of marriage between them as invalid. 

He also declined the fatherhood of the child. He denied the claim of maintenance to the wife on the grounds of the marriage being invalid and to the child on the grounds of illegitimacy. 

Section 125 CrPC 

Section 125 of the CrPC provides for the maintenance of the wife, children and parents by the husband. The provision of maintenance is incorporated to alleviate the agony and suffering of the distressed women. This section is applicable to individuals of all religions and has no relation with the personal laws of the parties. 

When a party invokes this section, the court may order the respondent to provide maintenance to the concerned parties. However, there is an exception to the provision which says that the husband has to be financially capable enough to support his wife. Many judicial precedents have reaffirmed this position recently. Earlier, the courts used to grant maintenance even if the wife was earning sufficiently but nowadays, all these factors are weighed in by the court before granting maintenance. Along with this, the maintenance would not be granted if the wife is living in adultery or separately without any sufficient reasons. 

Recently, in Badshah vs. Urmila Badshah Godse and Anr. (2013), the Apex Court ruled that the maintenance is granted with the goal of strengthening the poor and attaining social justice or for equality or dignity. The right to demand maintenance is statutory in India and it cannot be taken away by an agreement to the contrary. While passing any order under this provision, it has to be kept in mind that the husband has sufficient means to support the wife and also that the wife does not have sufficient means to support herself. 

Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides that any fact will be relevant which shows or constitutes a motive or preparation for any fact in issue or relevant fact. The conduct of any party to a suit in reference to such suit is relevant in such a case if such conduct influences the issue or relevant fact. According to this provision, the elements of motive, preparation and conduct are relevant.  

Section 8 specifies two timelines for the relevancy of conduct, i.e., previously and subsequently. The conduct of the accused is important not just in inferring and finding his guilt but also in determining the appropriate punishment and sentence. 

In the present case of Amina vs. Hassn Koya, the Hon’ble Court applied Section 8 in relation to the conduct of the respondent (husband). The court analysed that his conduct infers a different situation then what he is alleging. His allegations are not supported by any evidence and his conduct indicates otherwise.   

Hon’ble Justice Arun Kumar while giving the judgement rejected the arguments put forth by the respondents and observed that under Muslim law, a marriage is a contract, unlike the Hindu Law wherein it is a sacrament. The respondent’s case that he was not aware of the appellant’s pregnancy cannot be accepted. The lower courts have erred in declaring the marriage as void. It is difficult to believe that a woman can hide her five month pregnancy from her husband. This is an advanced stage of pregnancy and it is very difficult to hide it at this stage. In any circumstance, this cannot be concealed therefore, if the fact was known to the respondent then the marriage cannot be said to be illegal or void. 

The Court further emphasised on the conduct of the parties as per Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The court observed that the husband did not raise any objection at the time of marriage and even after marriage. As per the admitted evidence and records from the hospital, he was also present during the time of delivery of the child. He was attending Amina in the Hospital. He has also given his own name as the name of the father of the child for the official records at the hospital. All this evidence has been submitted before the court. 

After the birth of the child, he continued with the marriage for more than four years. It was only when the wife claimed maintenance that he denied the pregnancy and the child. The respondent’s conduct does not show that he had any problem with the pregnancy of his wife and the child. Even if the court believes the arguments of the respondent that he was unaware of the pregnancy at the time of marriage, his conduct after the marriage does not infer the same. A normal reasonable person would have immediately left his wife as soon as he got to know about the pregnancy. The fact that the respondent continued with his marriage for more than four years and also gave his name to the girl child implies that his allegations are mala fide in nature. 

Reliance was placed on the case of Kulsumbi Kom Abdul Kadir vs. Abdul Kadir Walad Saikh Ahmad (1920). This was also a case of marriage of a pregnant woman. The husband left his wife when he came to know about her pregnancy. It was held that concealment of pregnancy by the wife would not render the marriage invalid. The husband will be liable to pay dower and he cannot shrug off his responsibilities. 

Therefore, the fact that pregnancy was concealed by the appellant in the present case is unacceptable. The marriage cannot be held either invalid or void. The findings of the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court are completely unwarranted and incorrect & cannot be accepted by this court. In the present case, it is clearly evident that the respondent was fully aware of the pregnancy of the appellant at the time of marriage. He cannot now claim that the marriage was invalid or void. 

The court also discussed the judgement relied upon by the Additional Sessions Judge that is, Abdulla vs. Beepathu (1967). In this case, it was held that the pregnancy of the bride at the time of marriage ipso facto invalidates marriage unless the bride proves that this was well within the knowledge of the husband. This decision supports the conclusion given by this Hon’ble Court in the present petition. It is evidently clear that the husband was aware of the pregnancy of the wife, therefore no question arises of invalidating the marriage. 

Thus, the judgement of the Additional Sessions Judge and the High Court of Kerala are set aside. The appellant is entitled to costs and she can seek enhancement of the rate of maintenance from the husband. 

The case has been affirmed on several occasions since then. In 2018, the Kerala High Court reaffirmed this judgement in the case of Ali vs. Ummu Selma (2018), it was observed that if the husband has known about the pregnancy then the marriage cannot be treated as illegal or void. 

The case at hand presents a complex dispute over the validity of a marriage and the consequent obligation created upon the husband for maintenance. The initial rulings were in favour of the respondent but his arguments were further rejected by the Supreme Court. His arguments that the marriage was invalid due to the concealment of pregnancy was rejected. The case is important as it shows how the Supreme Court dealt with the case. The court analysed and scrutinised the respondent’s behaviour before and after the marriage. The court found it inconceivable that the respondent remained unaware of the pregnancy given his active participation during the birth of the child. 

By remarkable observations, the earlier rulings were rejected. It also emphasised that the concealment of pregnancy alone does not render a marriage invalid, especially when the facts suggest that the respondent was aware of the situation. By overturning the prior decisions, the Court affirmed the appellant’s entitlement to maintenance. 

What is the provision for maintenance?

Maintenance is a legal provision which allows a person to claim financial support from another person who is legally obligated to provide it. Section 125 of the CrPC provides for the maintenance.

What are the grounds for denying maintenance? 

A wife is not entitled to maintenance, if she is liable for adultery, if she refuses to live with her husband without any sufficient reason or if she has divorced the husband with mutual consent. 

What is a valid marriage? 

A valid marriage is one that is recognized as legal and binding under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

How is conduct inferred? 

Conduct means the external behaviour of an individual. As per Section 8 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the conduct of the parties can act as important evidence in determining a case. Relevant conduct of the parties in a case is taken into consideration by the court if there is no substantial evidence present. For instance, in the case of Amina vs. Hassn Koya, the conduct of the husband was taken into consideration to determine his liability and the validity of the marriage.  



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