Court seeks clarification on bigamy

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday sought to know from the Government whether it would permit a government employee to enter into a bigamous marriage if the employee sought permission.

The court posed this question to the Government Advocate when it was dealing with an appeal against a Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) order upholding the decision of the Government to compulsorily retire a government servant after she became the second wife of a resident of Bangalore.

In her appeal, P. Rajeshwari, who was working as an assistant librarian in MS Building, Bangalore, said a departmental inquiry was initiated against her after a woman complained to the authorities that she [Rajeshwari] had entered into wedlock with Jagannath, who was already married.

The department had initiated an inquiry and compulsorily retired her from service, saying that she had not obtained permission from the Government while entering into a second marriage.

The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal too had upheld the Government order. Rajeshwari had then appealed against the KAT order in the High Court.

When the matter came up for hearing, a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit, observed that for the woman, it was the first marriage and a second marriage for Jagannath.

The Government Advocate concurred with the view of the Bench and said that the marriage could not be termed as bigamous for Rajeshwari. The Bench then sought to know if the Government would have permitted the marriage had Rajeshwari applied for permission.

The Government Advocate said the rules were framed under the Karnataka Civil Services Rules (KCSR) only to ensure that the officials behaved with decorum and lead a blemish-less life.

He agreed that the KCCR rules were in conflict with Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code which treated bigamy as a criminal offence. The Bench adjourned further hearing of the case.

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