Educated couple start matrimonial litigation. Since both were residing at Bangalore, before separation, Husband files for divorce at Bangalore. Wife leaves husband, comes to Ambattur, which is outside Madras Metropolitan limits (in 1982 / 83) and files for maintenance under CrPC Sec 125 at Madras court. Husband assails jurisdiction. Husband proves with evidence that wife is outside Madras (and is residing under the jurisdiction of nearby Chengalpattu courts) Madras HC analyses “Domicile” and “jurisdiction”, verifies the facts and dismisses wife’s case, asking her to file at appropriate jurisdiction !!
While such technical victories may be short-lived, these are important to frustrate errant women filing usurious maintenance cases
Madras High Court
K. Mohan vs Balakanta Lakshmi on 13 December, 1982
Equivalent citations: 1983 CriLJ 1316
Author: R Pandian
Bench: R Pandian
ORDER Ratnavel Pandian, J.
..1. This revision is directed against the preliminary order made’ in M. C. 806 of 1980 on the file of the II Metropolitan Magistrate, Edmore, Madras, rejecting the contention of the revision petitioner (respondent in M. C. 806 of 1980 — husband) that the Court below did not have the territorial jurisdiction to entertain an application under Section 125, Cr. P.C. filed by the respondent herein (wife).
..2. It is a very unfortunate case wherein the highly educated couple are perpetually fighting with each other obviously for the reason, that they are not able to get on together amicably. It is seen from the records that after the marriage, both the parties resided at Bangalore and that the revision petitioner filed an original petition for annulment of the marriage before the Principal Civil Judge, Bangalore city. Be that as it may, the respondent had left Bangalore and thereafter had filed an application under Section 125 Cr. P.C. before the Second Metropolitan Magistrate, Edmore, Madras, claiming maintenance from the revision petitioner. In that petition she has stated in the preamble that she is now residing at Madras. The respondent, on receipt of the notice from the Court of the Second Metropolitan Magistrate, Madras, had filed a counter denying the allegations and raising a preliminary objection, stating that the said Court had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain this application under Section 125 Cr. P.C. on the ground that the respondent is not residing within its jurisdiction, viz. in the Madras City, but on the other hand is permanently residing with her parents at Ambattur within the jurisdiction of the Chengalpattu district and therefore the application ought to have been presented before the Court concerned in Chengalpattu district having jurisdiction over Ambattur area. To substantiate his preliminary objection, the petitioner has filed a number of documents marked as Exs. R-l to R-5. No oral evidence was let in by either of the parties. The learned Magistrate, observing that the term ‘resides’ occurring in Section 125 (1) (b) of the Cr. P.C. should be liberally construed, held, on the sole basis of the averment in the preamble of the petition that the respondent is residing at Madras, that he has got the territorial jurisdiction to entertain that application and the preliminary objection raised by the petitioner with regard to the jurisdiction is to be overruled. It is as against this order, the present revision is preferred.
..3. Though the respondent has received the summons, she is neither appearing in person nor appearing through any counsel. Therefore this Court has appointed Mr. A. Sasidharan, as amicus curiae to appear on behalf of the respondent and to assist this Court.
..4. This revision raises the question as to the true construction of the term ‘resides’ appearing in Section 126 (1) (b) of the Criminal P.C. Leaving apart the question about the respondent’s entitlement for maintenance, we have to determine in this case the question about the territorial jurisdiction of the Court at Madras to entertain this application filed under Section 125 Cr. P.C. because the jurisdiction of the Court is to be determined by the residence of the parties. The answer to this question turns upon the interpretation of Causes (a) to (c) of Section 126 (1) of the Code which demarcate the jurisdictional limits of a Court to entertain a petition under Section 125. I shall presently give the present and, the corresponding past provisions of the Code in the following table so that one can easily understand the position of law that stood earlier and the present position consequent upon the amendment made in the present Code.
|Sec. 488 (8) of the Criminal||Section 126 (1) of the Criminal|
|Procedure Code, 1898||Procedure Code, 1973|
|Proceedings under this||Proceedings ‘under Section 125 may be|
|section may be taken||taken against any person in any|
|against any person||district|
|in any district||(a) where he is, or|
|where he resides or is,||(b) where he or his wife resides, or|
|or where he last resided||(c) where he last resided with his|
|with his wife, or, as the case may be the||wifeor as the case|
|mother of illegitimate child.||case may be, the|
|mother of illegitimate child.|
On a plain reading of Section 488 (8) of the old Code, it can be seen that the place where the wife resided after desertion by her husband was not material. This caused great hardship to wives. who after desertion were living far away from the place where they and their husbands last resided together. So, in order to remove such hardships, on the recommendation made by the Law Commission, the present Section 126 (1) (b) was enacted by introducing the expression ‘or his wife’ between the words ‘he’ and, ‘resides’, so that the venue of the proceedings should also include the place where the deserted or neglected wife may be residing on the date of the application. In the present revision, the crucial word ‘resides’ occurring in Section 126 (1) (b) alone comes up for interpretation. Under the old Code, the Magistrate of the district where the husband or father, as the case may be, resided, only had the jurisdiction. Now the jurisdiction is enlarged or widened. 5. 126 (1) gives three alternative forums as enumerated, in Clauses (a) to (c) there under. These alternative forums are designedly given by the Parliament so as to enable a discarded wife or helpless child to get the much-needed and, urgent relief in one or the other of the three forums that is convenient to them. Needless to say that the proceeding under Section 125 is in the nature of a civil proceeding and the remedy is a summary one, as laid down in Sub-section (2) of Section 126, and the person seeking the remedy, as pointed out above, is ordinarily a helpless person. The introduction of the expression in Section 126 (1) (b) is ‘or his wife.’
..5. So, the word ‘resides’ should be undoubtedly liberally construed, but at the same time, without doing any violence to the language and without defeating the very object of this provision.
..6. The word ‘resides’ has been subject to conflicting judicial opinions. In the Oxford Dictionary it is defined as ‘….to live permanently or for a considerable time, to have one’s settled or usual abode, to live, in or at a particular place.’
..7. The Corpus Juris Secundum, Vol. LXXVII at page 285 states that the word ‘reside’ is employed in a wide variety of significations, that its meaning may differ according to the connection in which it is used, that the particular signification of the term in any given instance depends on the context and the purpose under consideration and that it should be interpreted in the light of the object or purpose of its use. It is. further noted therein as follows:– It has been said that the word, ‘reside’ has two distinct meanings, and that it may be employed in two senses, and in what is sometimes referred to as the strict legal, or technical sense, it means legal domicile as. distinguished from mere residence or. place of actual abode. In this sense the word ‘reside’ means legal residence; legal domicile, or the home of a person in contemplation of law, the place where a person is deemed in law to live, which may not always be the place of his actual dwelling and thus the term may mean something different from, being bodily present, and does not necessarily refer to the place of actual abode. When employed in this sense, the word,’reside’,.includes not only physical presence in a place, but also the accompanying intent of choosing that place as a permanent residence.
..8. Again, at page 288, it is noted thus: Reside’ has been held equivalent to, or synonymous with, ‘abide’, ‘dwell; ‘to have one’s home’, ‘live’, ‘lodge?, ‘remain’, ‘residence’, ‘sojourn’, and ‘stay’ ‘Reside’ is said to be. usually classed as synonymous, with ‘inhabit’; but not., in strictness, properly so.
..9. In the Words and Phrases, Per manent Edn. Volume 37, at page 308 it is defined thus; To ‘reside’ in ordinary acceptation, means to dwell, or to live…’Reside’ means live, dwell, abide, sojurn, stay, remain, lodge.
..10. The above lexicographical meaning of the word, therefore, takes in both the permanent dwelling and the tern porary living in a place and it is therefore capable of different meanings including ‘domicile’ in the strictest and the most technical sense and a temporary residence in the liberal sense. Whatever meaning is given to it, one thing is obvious and it is that it does not include a casual stay in or a flying visit to a particular place. In short, the meaning of the word would in the ultimate analysis depend upon the context and the purpose of the particular statute..
..11. In this case, the context and the purpose of the present statute certainly do not compel the importation of the concept of domicile in its technical sense. The purpose of the statute would, be better served if the word ‘resides’ is understood to include temporary residence. For example, if a person goes from his permanent place ‘A’ to another place ‘B’ either for carrying out certain work or as an invitee or as a tourist and resides or stays there for one or two days, he cannot be said to be residing at ‘B’ in the legal sense. But it he goes to the place ‘B’ and stay there for some length of time, though not permanently, but for the purpose of either educating his children or carrying on a business for a considerable length of time, he resides at ‘B’. One cannot give exhaustive illustrations to explain what the term ‘resides’ means. j But, its meaning has to depend upon the circumstances of each case. The main criteria in determining what the term ‘reside’ means, is the intention or the animus manendi of the person residing in a particular place, and the, cognate expression includes both temporary and permanent residence. But, the expression ‘resides’ used in Section 126 (b) of the new Code will not include a casual or flying visit or a brief, stay. On the other, hand, it implies more than that..
..12. Mr. V. Gopinathan drew the attention of this Court to decisions of the various High Courts and ultimately to the decision of the Supreme Court, all defining the term ‘reside’.
..13. The Full Bench of the. Allahabad High Court, in Arthur Flowers v. Minnie Flowers (1910) ILR 32 All 203, has held, while interpreting the expression ‘resides’ occurring in Section 3 of the Indian Divorce Act, that a mere temporary sojourn in a place, there being no intention of remaining there, will not amount to residence in.that place within the meaning of. the expression, so as to give jurisdiction under, the Act to the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such a place is situate.
..14. In Charan Das v. Surasti Bai AIR 1940 Lah 449 : 1941-42 Cri LJ 105, it was held that the sole test on the question of residence was whether a party had the animus manendi or an intention to stay for a definite,period at one place and if he had such an intention, then alone could he be said to reside there.
..15. In Balakrishna v. Mrs. B. Sakun-lala Bai AIR 194-2 Mad 666 : 194-2 Mad WN Cri 73, it has been pointed, out that the word ‘resides in Section 488 (8) Cr. P.- C. implies the mere intention to rer maJn ata place and not merely to pay it a casual visit intending shortly, to move on to ones permanent residence.
..16. This Court has in Sampoornam v. N. Sundaresan , obseryed as follows at p, 275 of Cri LJ:– In short, Sub-section (8)of Section 488 Cr. P.C. does not necessarily refer to a permanent residence and it refers also to temporary residence, and the word ‘residence’ implies something more than a brief visit but not such a continuity as to amount to domicile. Each case, has to be dealt with on its merits as has been pointed out in Ganga Bai v. Pamanmal AIR 1938 Sind 223 1939-40 : Cri: LJ 117, bearing in mind that the section should not be so strictly cont, strued as to deprive the woman, who often in these cases is helpless, of assistance from the Court/which is most easily accessible to her. The Supreme Court in Jagir Kaur v. Jaswant Singh , after having referred to the meaning of the term ‘resides’ as defined lexicographically and as inter-: preted by the various High Courts, has observed as follows (at p. 415 of Cri LJ):- The decisions on the. subject are legion and it would be futile to survey the entire field. Generally stated no decision goes so far as to hold that ‘resides’ in the sub-section means only’ domicile in the technical sense of that word. There is also a broad unanimity that it means something more than a (lying visit to or a casual stay in a particular place. They agree that there shall be animus manendi or an intention to stay for a period, the length of the period depending upon the circumstances of each case. Having regard to the object sought to be achieved, the meaning implicit in the words used; and the construction placed by decided cases thereon, we would define the word ‘resides’ thus. :,a person resides in a place if, he through choice makes it his abode permanently or even temporarily,; whether a person has chosen to make: a particular place his abode depends upon the facts,of each case.
..17. Therefore, it is clear that the exprecession ‘resides’ occurring in Section 126(1) (b) has to be given a liberal construe ion and the legislature could not have intended to use the said term in the technical sense of ‘domicile’ and it ‘has to be Understood to include a temporary residence also.
..18. Now, let us examine the facts of the present case, giving the word ‘resides’ the liberal interpretation as pointed put in the., above decisions.
..19. Mr. Gopinathan drew the attention of this Court to Exs. R. 1 toR 5,marked in this case and contended that the petitioner herein has unambiguously proved that the respondent is residing in Ambattur. In Ex. R-l, the postal acknowledgment containing the signature of the respondent dated 20-7-1979, her address read,s thus : “Mrs. K. Bala Kanaka Lakshmi, Laxmi Nivasl, No. 5, Kanniah Chetti St. Venkatapurarn, Ambattur P. O., Madras-53”. Ex. R. 2 is the reply notice dated 15-10-1979, sent by the respondent herself to the petitioner’s Counsel. In that reply notice also, she has given the same address as in Ex. R. 1. Ex. R. 5 is yet another postal acknowledgment dated 9-8-1980, containing the signature of the respondent and therein also the respondent’s address is the same as in Ex. R. I-Thus, it is clear that all the correspondence and the communications addressed to the respondent at her address at Ambattur, Madras 53, were duly served on her. Above -all, she -herself has given her address in October 1979′.in Ex. R. 2, stating that she is residing at No. 2 Kanniah Chetti St. Venkatapuram, Ambattur, Madras 53.
..20. As against the above, documentary evidence, the Court below was inclined to base its conclusion holding that the respondent is residing at Madras, solely on the recital made in the preamble of the petition filed under Section 125 Cr. P.C. which reads thus: The petitioner/complainant Balakanaka Lakshmi, aged about 23 years, residing at Madras, solemnly affirm and state as follows. Barring this, there is nothing on record to show that the respondent is residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court below or at any rate in any part of the Madras Corporation limits. The respondent would be conspicuously silent about the actual place of her residence in her affidavit. Only if the respondent gives her- residential address, the petitioner would be able to refute it by producing evidence to the contrary. Her bald, and vague statement that she is residing at Madras, will not enable the Court to arrive at any definite conclusion that she is residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court. If really the respondent is residing in any part of the Madras City, she should have specifically given the door number and the names of the street and of the locality, so that the Court below could unmistakably take seisin, of the matter. On the other hand, she has not denied the statement in the counter that she is residing at Ambattur, Madras 53 (Madras 53 denotes the postal division). Ex. R. 5 dated 9-8-1980, reveals that the correspondence addres sed to her has been served on her at her Ambattur address, even after her petition for maintenance dated, 20-2-1980 has been filed before the Court below, and the respondent herself has given her Ambattur address in Ex. R-2 Moreover, it may be noted that the notice issued from this Court in this revision sent to the respondent through the II Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, Madras, has been served on the respondent only at her residence at Ambattur mentioned above. Therefore, I unhesitatingly hold that the respondent is even now residing only at Ambattur. For all the reasons stated above, I hold that the respondent is not residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court below, either temporarily or permanently, but she is proved to be ‘residing’ within the meaning of the said expression used in which area the Court within the Chingalpattu district alone will have the territorial. jurisdiction’.
..21. In the result, the.revision is allowed, the order passed by the II Metropolitan Magistrate is set aside and the objection raised by the petitioner with regard to the territorial jurisdiction is upheld. It is left to the respondent to present the petition before the appropriate and competent Court having jurisdiction over Ambattur.