CHENNAI: The second wife is entitled to payment of family pension after the death of the first wife, the Madras High Court has ruled. The case relates to a petition filed by C Sarojini Devi. She said that her husband A Chinnasamy was working with the Morappur Panchayat Union in Dharmapuri district.
He married Sarojini Devi in February 1975, while he was still married to his first wife Pancholai. Chinnasamy and Pancholai had three children. Due to ill health, Pancholai died in April 1997. After her death, Chinnasamy nominated Devi to receive his pension, in 1999. He later died in 2009.
When Devi applied for pension, the local fund audit department rejected her claim, saying her marriage with Chinnasamy was not valid. She then approached the court. After hearing the matter, Justice N Anand Venkatesh said there will be no difficulty in concluding that the marriage between Devi and Chinnasamy was ‘illegal and not recognised by law’.
“In this view, the court has to lean towards the presumption of marriage, rather than branding the petitioner as a concubine,” the judge said. The audit body has been asked to grant Devi pension, including arrears, and grant the sum within 12 weeks.
Cohabited for long
For 34 long years, the petitioner and Chinnasamy lived as husband and wife, and their long co-habitation itself raised that presumption of marriage. Added to that, Chinnasamy had nominated her in 1999 to receive a family pension, the judge observed.