The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department to initiate action and file criminal cases against those employees who have more than one spouse.
According to a report in the New Indian Express, the court passed the order on a petition filed by R Thenmozhi from Madurai, the second wife of a policeman who had died. She was seeking pension benefits equivalent to that provided to the first wife of the deceased policeman.
In her complaint, she stated that she married the policeman in 1982 and after only a few years of being married to him, she came to know that he had previously married and had three children. She had filed a complaint at the Usilampatti police station after which her husband said he would take care of both families. After he died in 2011, she did not receive any of the monetary benefits provided by the government and hence requested the court to split his pension and other benefits between her and his first wife.
Hearing the petition, Justice SM Subramaniam rejected the plea because her name was not mentioned in any records as the nominee of the deceased government servant. He ordered that the government record the name of the spouse in the service records of all government servants after verifying if the information furnished by the employee is genuine.
During the judgment, Justice SM Subramaniam observed that though the rules state that bigamy is an offence and amounts to misconduct under the Indian Penal Code, the government authorities are insensitive towards such issues. He also observed that this insensitivity results in denial of livelihood to women who marry government employees as their second wives.
The judge also ordered the concerned departments to verify the documents of their staff properly.