Even as the Supreme Court is set to deliver judgment next Thursday on whether a woman in a live-in relationship with a male partner is entitled to maintenance if the couple separate, a Delhi High Court bench on Friday ruled if such a woman had mistakenly assumed she was married to her partner, she was indeed entitled.
According to the court’s order, Ritika (name changed), a resident of Patparganj, will get a total of R36,000 – R20,000 for herself and R16,000 for her son’s upkeep. Justice Sanjiv Khanna dismissed a petition by her former partner Mukesh challenging a lower court order directing him to pay the maintenance.
In court, Mukesh denied any relationship with Ritika, while Ritika claimed she married him in 1987. Though unable to provide any proof of marriage to Mukesh, Ritika did submit evidence — mostly photographs — to show they had been living together for years. She claimed she left Mukesh when she discovered he was already married before they tied the knot. It was enough to convince the judge that Mukesh was liable to pay maintenance.
Justice Khanna endorsed the view of the lower court that said: “The respondent has established she had a live-in relationship with the appellant. Therefore she is entitled for maintenance from appellant.”
The Supreme Court has been called upon to decide on alimony for a live in partner because there is an apparent conflict in Indian laws on the matter.