The National Commission for Women has recommended the Government to make suitable changes in the law to entitle women in live-in relations to get maintenance from her partner if he chooses to dump her.
In its recent recommendations to the Government, NCW suggested that the scope of Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, under which a wife, legitimate or illegimate child and parents are entitled to get maintenance from a man, to include women in live-in relations.
The Commission cited the example of the recently notified Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 wherein domestic relationship has been defined broadly to include any relationship in the nature of marriage.
The Commission felt that if the benefits of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act can be extended to women in a relationship in the nature of marriage, "there is no reason that provisions of Section 125 of CrPC should not be extended to them."
The Commission said, "there are many instances where a woman unwittingly enters into wedlock with a man or they live together in a relationship like marriage and are later deserted or shunned. In such cases the woman is left with little or no sustenance."
Centre for Social Studies Director Ranjana Kumari welcomed the NCW move. "Extending legal protection to women in live-in relations would provide adequate protection to them when men deny the relationship. It is all the more important because it is easy to deny such relationship…easier than matrimonial relationship," she said.
Kumari said that a woman doubly suffers in live-in relationship because she doesn't get social as well as legal legitimacy and approval and runs the risk of being left to fend for herself and children at any point of time as there is no social or legal binding.
In its recommendation, the Commission cited a recent Supreme Court case wherein a woman in live-in relationship with a man in Gujarat had a child and was tortured and thrown out. The court turned down her plea for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC on the ground that she was not a lawfully married wife of the man in question.
The Supreme Court had observed, "the Legislature considered including within the scope of Section 125 of CrPC an illegitimate child but it has not done so with respect to a woman not lawfully married."
"Section 125 CrPC does not provide protection to such women who unwittingly get into relationships with married men. This being an inadequacy in the law it can be undone only by the Legislature," the apex court had said.
According to Section 125 of CrPC, if any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, including divorced one but not remarried, a legitimate or illegitimate minor child or parents can be ordered to pay maintenance to them if they are unable to maintain themselves.
The NCW suggested that Clause (1)(a) of Section 125 of CrPC should be amended so as to include any woman living with a man in a relationship in the nature of marriage and unable to maintain herself.
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