Court cases are going from the curious to the bizarre. A case in point: a 36-year-old woman is alleged to have been married 22 times, just for the divorce and its desserts.
The line between fact and fiction all but did the disappearing act when three weeks ago, a railway guard filed a petition in Calcutta High Court. He claimed his wife had falsely declared that she was unmarried while appearing before the marriage registrar on December 3, 1990, the day they were married.
The petitioner sought a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe, alleging that he had “discovered” how his wife had married “at least 22 other times”, both before and after they had tied the knot.
Each time, he alleged, she would walk off with jewellery, alimony and one-time monetary settlements in divorce-by-mutual-consent cases.
Justice Pinaki Ghosh of Calcutta High Court obliged on Wednesday, and asked the CID to investigate the matter.
The lawyer for the wife has, however, denied the charges levelled against her in the petition, stating that his client was “regularly tortured” at her in-laws’ house, which had finally forced her to leave their home in Malda in 1993.
“The charges have been levelled against her so that the petitioner can avoid paying maintenance to my client,” said the lawyer.
The petitioner contended that he got the railway job after his father had died in harness. He had to maintain his family, comprising his mother and minor brother.
He wanted to marry someone who would look after his family and run the household. He saw an advertisement in the matrimonial columns of a newspaper and responded. That was how the two were married.
After marriage, he alleged, his wife refused to “adjust” with her in-laws and wanted to live separately. “She went back to her parents in Bandel,” he added.
The petitioner later hired a room in Subhas Pally, Malda, to set up home, separately, with his wife. “But she could not stay with me, and we ended up arguing constantly. She later went back to her parents,” he continued.
The petitioner then filed for divorce in Malda in 1994. The case is still pending. His wife had also filed a case the same year, demanding maintenance, and got “a favourable order”.
The petitioner claimed that he then got to know that his wife had married seven times before marrying him. She had married as many as 15 times after that, he claimed. “Why would a woman marry so many times unless she was out to make money'” demanded the petitioner.
On the other hand, the wife’s counsel claimed that no woman could get away by marrying so many times.
The judge heard both sides and on Wednesday, admitted that he had not come across such a curious case before.
“What I have just learnt is amazing. I have asked the CID to investigate all the statements and allegations. Appropriate steps will be taken after the investigation is over,” Justice Ghosh said.