Marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage (Section 496 of IPC)
Section 496 punishes fraudulent or mock marriage. This section applies to such cases in which marriage ceremony is complete but under no circumstances constitutes a valid marriage and in which one of the parties is induced to believe that a valid marriage has been constituted thereby.
The essential ingredients of Section 496 are:
i) The accused went through the form of marriage
ii) He knew that he was not lawfully married.
iii) He went through the form of marriage dishonestly or fraudulently
No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Section 496 except upon a compliant made by some aggrieved by such offence. If the complaint is filed by the first wife, the offence falls under Sections 494 and 495 (Bigamy). The first wife is not entitled to file complaint under Section 496.
Only the deceived girl or her parents shall have to file the complaint under Section 496. This offence is non-cognizable, and warrant should ordinarily issue. It is bailable but not compoundable and is triable by the Magistrate of the first class. However, in Andhra Pradesh, the offence is cognizable, non-bailable (vide A.P Act No. 3 of 1993 Section 2 w.e.f. 15-2-1992).
One of the parties to the marriage makes to believe the other party that the marriage between them is valid, even though it is not a valid marriage. The deceived party innocently believes that their marriage ceremony is lawful. The offence is that the wrong-doer intentionally, dishonestly and fraudulently makes to believe that other party to the marriage that their marriage and marriage ceremony are lawful.
In Kailahs Singh v. State of Rajasthan (1992 Cr LJ 1005 Raj), the accused was a married person. He induced a girl saying that he was unmarried. The parents of the girl also believed his words.
They gave dowry and arranged marriage between the accused and their daughter. At the time of the marriage ceremony the parents came to know the fraudulent act of the accused. The deceived girl complained the matter to the police. The court committed the accused under Section 496.
In Prasanna Kumar v. Dhanalaxmi [1989 Cr LJ 1829 (Mad)], the accused married for the second time during the pendency of special appeal against decree of divorce in violation of Section 15 of the Hindu Marriage Act but without concealing the fact of pendency of the appeal from the girl or her parents, it was held that no conviction could be entered under Section 496 IPC as the act of the accused was neither dishonest nor fraudulent.