The National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended changes in the law to enable a woman in a live-in relationship to get maintenance from her partner if he deserts her.
In its recent recommendations to the government, the NCW suggested that the scope of Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code be enlarged to include women in live-in relations. At present, only wives, legitimate or illegimate children and parents are eligible for maintenance.
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 why provisions of Section 125 of the 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."
Director of the Centre for Social Studies, 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,” she said.
In its recommendation, the NCW cited a recent case, where the Supreme Court turned down the plea of a woman in a live-in relationship for maintenance on the ground that she was not lawfully married.