SC sets rules for live-in claims | delhi | Hindustan Times
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SC sets rules for live-in claims

In what instance can a woman in a live-relationship claim maintenance? Not if she is ‘kept’ by a man for sex or as a servant, Supreme Court said on Thursday.

delhi Updated: Oct 22, 2010 00:41 IST
Satya Prakash

In what instance can a woman in a live-relationship claim maintenance? Not if she is ‘kept’ by a man for sex or as a servant, Supreme Court said on Thursday.

It said the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 — which provides maintenance to women who live in — does not cover all live-in relationships, only ‘relationships in the nature of marriage’. And weekends spent together or one-night stands don’t qualify.

“If a man has a ‘keep’ he maintains financially and uses for sex and/or as a servant, it would not be a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’,” it said.

The court said a woman in a live-in relationship is entitled to maintenance only if she fulfils certain parameters and provides evidence of these. The parameters are: The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses; they must be of legal age to marry; they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried; they must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time.

“Parliament has used the expression ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ and not ‘live-in relationship’. The court cannot change the language of the statute,” the SC said.

“This [judgment] is one step forward and two back,” said jurist Rajiv Dhavan. “On the one hand the court gives a liberal interpretation to common law live-in relationship… But the fact that it is purely sexual from the man’s side is irrelevant as long as the live-in relationship exists. This leaves too many options for the man, including, paradoxically, that he was giving vent only to his lust. It creates a loophole in an otherwise liberal judgment.”

The SC order came on a petition filed by D Velusamy against a Tamil Nadu High Court order upholding a trial court decision asking him to pay maintenance to D Patchiammal.

But the SC set aside both orders, saying the courts ignored Velusamy’s contention of being already married, although he admitted to living with Patchiammal.