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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bigamy is Moral turpitude says.......... Supreme Court

Are you on facebook and would you post important events of your life including marriage photos !!! There is mad craze for cinema and every train from rural perhaps brings some one aspiring to become something in cine field.  In cultures that practice marital monogamy, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another.  Bigamy is a crime in many countries.

Heard of ‘moral turpitude’ :  it is an act or behavior that gravely violates the moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community; Moral turpitude is a legal concept that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals. The concept of "moral turpitude" might escape precise definition, but it has been described as an "act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."

In India, in a number of statutes, both Central and the State, the expression 'offence involving moral turpitude' is frequently used to denote a disqualification for holding a public office, whether elected or otherwise. For example, Section 25 of the UP Municipal Corporation Act debars a person for being a corporator, if he is convicted for an offense involving moral turpitude.  In Mangali vs Chhakki Lal And Ors. on 17 April, 1962,  a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution-  objection was raised against the nomination paper  on the ground that he stood disqualified because he had been convicted of an offence under Section 60 of the U.P. Excise Act and had been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 10/- for that offence. It was contended that the offence was one involving moral turpitude. The objection was accepted and the nomination paper of the first respondent was rejected. In that case the person was married and after birth of 3 children, the spouses started living separately.  A spurt of litigation followed thereafter. While proceedings for dissolution of the marriage, custody of the minor children and criminal prosecution were pending between the parties, the appellant instituted a complaint bigamy alleging that the first respondent had subsequently married the second respondent. 

Here is an interesting news item in Times of India, Chennai Edition titled ‘HC calls bigamy moral turpitude, OKs ban on CA’…..

Chennai: Holding that bigamy is ‘moral turpitude’, the Madras high court has upheld the ban on a chartered accountant from practising on the ground of bigamy. P Mohanasundaram, a Chennai-based chartered accountant, was removed from the register by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in 2010 based on the complaint filed by his estranged wife. Confirming a single judge’s decision not to interfere with the removal, the first bench comprising acting Chief Justice R K Agrawal and Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar said “Mohanasundaram married another woman while the first marriage was subsisting. We are of the view that the offence of bigamy comes within the meaning of ‘moral turpitude’.”

Pointing out that Section 8 of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 clearly stated that moral turpitude was a valid ground for removal of a person from the register, the judges said Mohanasundaram had been convicted for bigamy by a magistrate court in May 1999 and sentenced to one year in jail.   The conviction was upheld by a sessions court in January 2000, and his jail term was reduced to six months by the high court in February 2003. The SupremeCourt, while upholding the conviction, reduced the sentence to the period he had already served in prison.

In the meanwhile, acting on his wife’s complaint, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’s southern regional council wrote to him on July 5, 2009 saying a bigamous marriage would invite disqualification and asked him to appear for an enquiry on January 13, 2009 in New Delhi to explain as to why his name should not be removed from the register of members. After he refused to participate in the hearing, his name was removed on April 16, 2010. As for Mohanasundaram’s contention that he was not heard before his name was removed, the judges said the plea was unsustainable because despite getting an opportunity, he refused to attend the hearing. “A person, who refuses to appear in spite of receipt of notice for appearance, cannot be allowed to raise the plea of violation of principles of natural justice,” they said.

Stating that Mohanasundaram and his estranged wife’s marriage is governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the bench said, adding that Section 17 of the Act states that marriage between two Hindus is void if two conditions are satisfied — the marriage is solemnized after the commencement of the Act, and on the date of such marriage, either party had a husband or wife living. Thus, it is evident that if a Hindu marries a person despite having a spouse living, he/she shall be liable to be prosecuted for bigamy,” the judges said.

There is news that a man was charged with bigamy after his wife found out he had another wife from the social network Facebook.  It is stated that Alan O'Neill was first married back in 2001 to his first wife. In 2009, he left her decided to change his name and got remarried but never got a divorce. They were separated, but were not divorced ever. The two wives ended up becoming friends on Facebook because it came up as people she might know. They must have shared mutual friends.  In another instance, the Inquisitr reported on April 16, 2013, that a newly married man’s other wife found co-wife on Facebook. This man named Mr. Keyet is in a thick soup now. The new bride of Mr. Keyet shared the news of her marriage on the Facebook when she received a message from a stranger asking her how she could be Mrs. Keyet when Mrs. Keyet is already there. The 38-year-old Australian woman received a big blow. The old wife is thinking to file bigamy charges against her cheat husband

~ in Tamil culture, we speak so high of morals – do you know of the politicians and famous people, who are polygamous and are openly known to have married more than one wife…………….. and yet holding key positions in the Society……

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                                                       6th May 2013.


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