In an judgement that expands the ambit of the Domestic Violance Act, the Delhi High Court has held that the law protects not only a man's wife but also a "mistress" or a live-in partner.
"We find no reason why equal treatment should not be accorded to a wife as well as a woman who has been living with a man as his common-law wife or even as a mistress," a Bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen and PK Bhasin said.
The Bench passed the judgement on a petition filed by a man for quashing criminal proceedings against him on the complaint filed by his live-in partner.
Rejecting the plea of the petitioner, the court said that in a case of women having live-in relationships with a man it could be fairly assumed that the relationship was initiated by the man.
"Like treatment to both (wives and mistress) does not, in any manner, derogate from the sanctity of marriage since an assumption can fairly be drawn that a live-in relationship is invariably initiated and perpetuated by the male," the Bench said.
The Bench said that in dealing with such cases "the court should also not be impervious to social stigma which always sticks to women and not to the men".